ISLAMABAD - With the federation dropping a hint to the apex court about making a “genuine effort” to make “meaningful progress” in NRO implementation case, the Supreme Court on Thursday deferred for an indefinite period the proceedings into the federation’s review appeal against its order of July 12 regarding NRO implementation case on a request by Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) Irfan Qadir. A five-judge special bench of Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa, Justice Sarmad Jalal Osmany, Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, Justice Gulzar Ahmed and Justice Athar Saeed adjourned the proceedings accepting the requests of the AGP and the law minister.
Contrary to the positive gestures expressed by the AGP on Thursday, the AGP on Wednesday had adopted a defiant posture before the court, hinting that the prime minister might not appear before the court on August 27 to respond to the show-cause notice issued by the five-member bench. The bench noted in its order that it was informed by the AGP that last evening, the prime minister, law minister and he himself had a meeting on the outstanding issue of a petition filed by Dr Mubashir Hassan and others against NRO and after detailed discussion, they had decided to seek time to make a “genuine effort in the matter for a meaningful progress”.
When the proceedings started, Attorney General Irfan Qadir apprised the bench that under the bench’s Wednesday observations, he had held a meeting with the PM, attended by the Law Minister Farooq H Naik. He contended that there was a “genuine desire” on part of the federal government to resolve the issue “once for all”.
He said they had undertaken serious deliberation and it was decided to take all persons in loop who were not available yesterday. Justice Asif Saeed Khosa observed that an exaggeration of the para 178 of the NRO judgment had been made out whereas in fact, they had directed for revival of Pakistan’s status as damaged civil party and ignoring request of former attorney general Malik Qayyum which was declared illegal in the judgment.
“We do not want anything more than what we have written. We did not add anything.” He told the AGP that there was difficulty for them as in the absence of commitment on part of the federation, they could not terminate the proceedings. He told the AGP that the federation could withdraw the review plea if he felt things were heading towards the “other direction”.
Qadir pleaded the bench to defer proceedings on the issue as he would not be available on August 27 due to his participation in prosecutor generals meeting in Russia. Justice Khosa told him that the July 12 order was an independent matter which had created consequences.
The AGP termed interaction with the bench positive and said that the government respected the judiciary and all the judges and was serious to resolve the issue. Upon Justice Khosa’s query, Law Minister Farooq H Naik came to the rostrum and said he had appeared before the bench to show commitment of his government to resolve the matter. He said nobody wanted to derail the democratic system and did not want clash between pillars of the state. He said neither did they want to drag on the matter nor employ delaying tactics, but the difficulty was that the decision could not be taken by one man. Naik requested the bench to club together both the review plea and the August 27 contempt matter, and put it for hearing in the first week of September. He said the outcome would be good for the whole nation. “Individuals don’t matter, institutions are important,” he added. Justice Khosa, however, informed the law minister that the bench was hearing the review plea against its July 12 order, while the other bench would take up contempt issue on August 27, so it would be difficult to club both the matters. Justice Khosa told him that if the person whom they had summoned for August 27 (prime minister) and for whom they had greater respect due to his office, if he appeared and gave a positive statement, they would certainly accommodate him. Justice Khosa remarked that in case of failure, the law would take its course and then the AGP would become irrelevant. He said there would be no problem if the respondent uttered two positive words. “From where did this notion come that appearing before the Supreme Court demeans someone’s stature. We have every respect for everyone. If an office holder appears before court, it enhances his stature and does not demean it,” he added. He stressed that every effort should be made to protect the dignity of institutions. The judge said the issue of contempt was not before them and if it was fixed then they could have made an adjustment. To the bench’s query, the AG replied that he was considering withdrawing the review petition. Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan told him that he could raise all the points at the later stage and said the review plea would not create impediment in hearing of the main case. While Justice Khosa made it clear that it should not be taken as stay in the main case.