Ahsan unwell, Contempt case adjourned till Apr 12

Islamabad: Pakistan`s Supreme Court today adjourned a contempt case against Yousuf Raza Gilani till April 12 after the Prime Minister`s lawyer said that he would be unable to continue his arguments as he was unwell.

Gilani`s lawyer Aitzaz Ahsan was on Monday unable to appear before a seven-judge bench led by Justice Nasir-ul-Mulk as he had food poisoning. When proceedings resumed today, the bench asked the lawyer if he was fit to continue his arguments.

Ahsan replied that he would be unable to do so. Ahsan complained about remarks made by the bench on Monday that seemed to imply he was avoiding the proceedings. The bench said those remarks were made in a lighter vein.

During Monday`s hearing, Justice Nasir-ul-Mulk had remarked: "Had he (Ahsan) listened to us, he would not have been struck with food poisoning."

Ahsan`s assistant had then replied that it was sheer coincidence that he was unwell and that he had never missed any hearing in his 40-year career. He had asked the bench to adjourn the hearing for a week, but it had disregarded the plea and adjourned the case till today.

After the hearing resumed today, the bench adjourned the case till April 12 following consultations. The bench asked Ahsan if he would complete his arguments in five days when the hearing resumed but the lawyer said he could not give any commitment in this regard.

The apex court recently indicted Gilani for contempt after he refused to act on its orders to revive cases of alleged money laundering against President Asif Ali Zardari in Switzerland.
It has been pushing the government to reopen the cases against Zardari since December 2009, when it annulled the National Reconciliation Ordinance, a graft amnesty issued by former military ruler Pervez Musharraf.

The government has refused to act, saying the Constitution gives the President immunity in Pakistan and abroad. Gilani has said he would prefer to be jailed in the contempt case than violate the Constitution by approaching Swiss authorities to revive the graft cases. The Prime Minister could be jailed for six months and disqualified if he is convicted for contempt.