71 Pages of Confusion

The Supreme Courts detailed verdict in the Prime Ministers Contempt of Court Case, has created more confusion than clearing up the existing confusion; whether the Prime Minister stands disqualified, or is liable to being disqualified from the Majlis-e-Shoora, remains a mystery that a layman can never solve alone. Being just such a layman, I turned to the experts.

According to Justice (R) Wajihuddin Ahmed; the Supreme Court will only give findings on the contempt of court case. It will not state that the Prime Minster stands disqualified – because the clause for that is present in the constitution (Article 63(1)g).

I further asked, whether the matter will now go to the Speaker to decide whether 63(1)g applies or not. His response, in his opinion, Article 63(2) does not apply because it states “If any question arises whether a member of Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament) has become disqualified from being a member, the Speaker or, as the case may be, the Chairman shall, unless he decides that no such question has arisen, refer the question to the Election Commission within thirty days and should he fail to do so within the aforesaid period it shall be deemed to have been referred to the Election Comission.”

I asked why Article 62(2) did not apply. The retired Justice explained, that a question has not arisen a conviction verdict has already been given. Therefore the 30 day time period for the Speaker to ponder over the issue is irrelevant.

On an interesting note, he added, that the Supreme Court had sent the short order to the Speaker as well as the Election Commission, and it is most likely that the complete verdict will also be sent to the Election Commission. Why is this point so interesting ? Because it gives way to the question… “Does the Speaker need to send the matter to the Chief Election Commissioner, or will the Election Commission proceed against Prime Minister GIlani?”

For my second opinion I turned to Senator, Barrister Farogh Nasim. Having himself seen the full verdict I asked him whether Para 71 starting from its last sentence – which speaks of the verdict given on the 10th of January 2012, now stood validated since the Prime Minister was convicted on the 28th of April 2012. (For the readers benefit, the said para (starting from its last sentence) is reproduced below)

…. The Respondent was put on notice through Option No.2 in the order dated 10.01.2012 (Ex.P22) of the possible consequences of non-compliance of this Court’s direction and the relevant portion of that order reads:

“5.          This brings us to the actions we may take against willful disobedience to and non-compliance of some parts of the judgment rendered and some of the directions issued by this Court in the case of Dr. Mobashir Hassan (supra). This Court has inter alia the following options available with it in this regard:

 ………It may not be lost sight of that, apart from the other consequences, by virtue of the provisions of clauses (g) and (h) of Article 63(1) read with Article 113 of the Constitution a possible conviction on such a charge may entail a disqualification from being elected or chosen as, and from being, a member of Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament) or a Provincial Assembly for at least a period of five years.”

My question to the Barrister was : After the 26th April conviction, should the words “may entail a disqualification” be read without the “may” ? He concurred with Justice Wajih on the note, that after the Prime Ministers conviction article 63(1)g does apply, and if the Speaker does forward the matter to the Election Commissioner within 30 days, it will be deemed as forwarded.

While both agreed, that Prime Minister Gilani should morally step down, Farogh Nasim is of the view that the detailed verdict in its self does not disqualify the Prime Minister; while Justice Wajih maintains that there is no reason for the Verdict to even state – that the Prime Minister has been disqualified, because it is already stated clearly in the Constitution. I on the other hand, a Layman, am still confused.

*The Author is not a Legal Expert. The opinions of the legal experts mentioned are as stated : “Opinions”. Therefore any plans you may have of wanting to sue me, should stand nullified thanks to this disclaimer.


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