LAHORE, Sept 5: The Lahore High Court issued on Wednesday a fresh notice to President Asif Ali Zardari through his principal secretary and sought a reply to a petition pleading contempt proceedings against him for not abiding a court order to relinquish the political office of PPP co-chairman.
Additional Deputy Attorney General Abdul Hayee Gilani informed a larger bench that Attorney General Irfan Qadir was to appear in the proceedings in response to an earlier notice issued to him. But he could not attend the hearing because he had been summoned by the Supreme Court at the Quetta registry and, therefore, the proceedings should be adjourned.
Senior lawyer Wasim Sajjad, representing the federation, said the government was a party in the main petition but was not so impleaded in the present contempt proceedings.
Mr Gilani and Advocate Sajjad had no answer when the bench headed by Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial asked them if the respondent (president) was represented in the proceedings.
The bench said record showed that the respondent had been served by two means mentioned in the court’s June 27 order, but apparently he was still not represented in the present proceedings.
“This contempt petition is filed against the person of the respondent (president),” the bench said, adding that it was necessary that the respondent was duly represented.
“Even if he has any objection to the maintainability of this petition, the same may be against through his counsel in terms of section 17 of the Contempt of Court Ordinance, 2003.
Therefore, the respondent shall be served afresh through his principal secretary for arranging his representation in the proceedings through counsel,” the court said in its order.
“Without prejudice to other pleas that are taken up, any objection to the maintainability of these proceedings that are visualised by the learned counsel for the respondent or by the learned Attorney General for Pakistan, shall be filed in writing and be heard on the next date of hearing, Sept 14,” the order said.
The petition filed by Munir Ahmad through lawyers A.K Dogar and Azhar Siddique accused President Zardari of indulging in political activities in the presidency. It said the president had neither disassociated himself from the political office nor stopped ‘misusing’ the President House despite a verdict by the LHC’s full bench against the dual-office.
The petitioner contended that the use of Presidency for political activities was illegal and tantamount to committing contempt of court’s orders issued on May 12 last year. He requested the court to issue a show-cause notice to the president and punish him under Contempt of Court Ordinance, 2003, read with Article 204 of the Constitution.