ISLAMABAD, Feb 2: Without any pomp, former premier Yousuf Raza Gilani appeared before the Supreme Court on Saturday to file a petition seeking review of the June 19, 2012, order disqualifying him from holding a seat in parliament for committing contempt of the court.
The plea was filed 223 days after the decision, although a review petition against a judgment has to be submitted within 30 days.
Mr Gilani began his arguments for the review by requesting the court to grant him permission to plead his case instead of his lawyer Aitzaz Ahsan. Normally the same lawyer pleads the review petitions.
“Since the petition is time-barred and an appeal has also been made in the petition to hear him personally, it is likely that the matter is first taken up by a judge in his chambers before fixing it for arguments before a bench,” a lawyer said.
Mr Gilani argued in his petition that his stand before the bench for not writing a letter to the Swiss authorities about a corruption reference was an official act as the prime minister, after a decision by the then cabinet and that there was nothing personal which should have resulted in his disqualification.
“This official act has now been set aside and reviewed by incumbent Prime Minister Raja Parvez Ashraf (by writing the letter) and endorsed by the judiciary,” he said, adding that justice required that the petitioner’s conviction be set aside and the disqualification be removed.
His stance with regard to the NRO verdict was his official act as the prime minister, based on his bona fide belief and opinion, but not to ridicule the court or cause any hindrance in administration of justice, he said.
His opinion as the prime minister, whether right or wrong, was not a criminal act and, therefore, it should not have resulted in conviction and consequent disqualification from being a member of parliament, the petition said.
Similarly, neither the charge framed for committing contempt of the court was related to his personal conduct nor the stand taken was personal, he said, adding that it was an act performed in the discharge of his official functions.
The new prime minister took a similar stand before the court but there was a shift in the official policy of the prime minister and the government since the current prime minister decided to write the letter to the Swiss authorities but even in the letter the stand of immunity for the president was reiterated, he emphasised. He contended that he had been disqualified for five years for an act which was not personal but the wrong and the stigma suffered by him was personal and likely to ruin his political career. The Nov 14, 2012, order of the court whereby the prime minister was allowed to write to the Swiss authorities with specific addition of words “without prejudice to the president’s claim regarding immunity under Article 248 of the Constitution”, had the effect of rectifying the earlier wrong, he argued. “This requires that the wrong/disqualification suffered by the petitioner should also be rectified so that his position is vindicated,” he pleaded. “Since the official act of the petitioner as the prime minister has been rescinded/undone by the successor prime minister by way of dispatching a letter to Swiss authorities in compliance with this court’s judgment and since the previous official act which led to his disqualification stands reviewed, it is prayed that my disqualification be reviewed in the interest of justice,” Mr Gilani said.