SCP orders submission of Swiss cases report by 5th April.

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ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court was surprised on Thursday when it was informed that the letters requesting for the reopening of cases against President Asif Ali Zardari had not been dispatched to the Swiss authorities but were lying in the law secretary’s house, while the attorney general told the court that the law minister was posing a stumbling block against the implementation of the NRO verdict.
National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Chairman Naved Ahsan on Tuesday told the apex court that the same letters had been dispatched to the Swiss authorities for the reopening of cases against President Zardari.
Justice (retd) Muhammad Aqil Mirza, secretary law and justice, surprised a seven-member larger bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, disclosing that he had received a phone call from the Foreign Office, informing him of dispatching three envelops to him.
He told the court that after receiving it, he opened up one of the envelop sent on his name wherein the Foreign Office had sought his opinion on the issue related to the request to the Swiss authorities for the reopening of cases against Zardari.
“I have kept the other two letters in my house and I have yet to see the relevant laws to give my opinion,” the law secretary said. He sought some time from the court for processing the matter. However, the court first rejected his request, but later on, agreed and directed Attorney General Anwar Mansoor Khan, Abid Zuberi, the counsel for NAB, to extend cooperation in processing the matter and directed them to appear before the court on April 5.
The court directed for submitting report with the registrar of the Supreme Court, stating that the request for the reopening of Swiss cases had been made accordingly. During the course of hearing, the law secretary sought advice from the court, saying whether he should open thoseenvelops he had kept in his house.
“It’s your job and we want implementation of the court’s verdict of December 16, 2009,” the chief justice said. The SC bench of the apex was hearing a suo moto case on the non-implementation of its Dec 16, 2009, verdict on the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO).
Other members of the bench included Justice Mian Shakirullah Jan, Justice Tassaduq Hussain Jilani, Justice Ch Ijaz Ahmed, Justice Tariq Parvez, Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa and Justice Khalilur Rehman Ramday.
The court directed the attorney general to consult the Law Ministry and other officials concerned, prepare a summary, seek its approval from the prime minister and then sent the letters to the Swiss authorities through a special messenger for the reopening of cases against President Zardari and submit its report before the court by April 5.
The court also pointed out to the AG and the law secretary that in its Dec 16 verdict on the NRO, it had directed to take action against former attorney general Malik Muhammad Qayyum for his communication with the Swiss authorities and request for the withdrawal of cases.
The court, at the start of the hearing, expressed dissatisfaction over the process relating to the revival of the Swiss cases and raised objections over the contents of the letters addressed to the Swiss authorities.
The court observed that the process of intimating the Swiss authorities lacked ownership of the government and directed that the government must own the whole process. “The government should own this whole process, as there is no ownership of the government as well,” the chief justice remarked.
He said the process, initiated in 1997 by intimating the Swiss authorities requesting for the withdrawal of cases, was duly approved by the government while correspondence was made through the attorney general.He said all the process made so far was not based on the required proper procedure.
Abid Zuberi, the counsel for NAB, told the court that they had involved the Foreign Office and the letters would be dispatched to the Swiss authorities through the foreign affairs secretary. At this, the chief justice said the Law Ministry should have forwarded the letters after getting approval from the prime minister.
Justice Ramday asked the NAB counsel that he should have mentioned in the letters that the earlier letters sent by former attorney general Malik Muhammad Qayyum were unlawful and of no legal effect.
“Where is your statement stating that those communications made by Malik Muhammad Qayyum were unauthorised,” Justice Ramday inquired. AG Anwar Mansoor Khan submitted before the court that he had not yet examined the letters and sought time from the court. He said the letters written by the NAB chairman went to the Law Ministry through the Foreign Office and they were still with the ministry.
“You have to process the matter with full responsibility and will have to present the case with full preparation,” the chief justice asked the AG. “Tell us who is obstructing you in the process,” Justice Ramday asked the AG. The attorney general replied that he is faced with hardships in getting the documents relating the Swiss cases from the Law Ministry.
Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammed Chaudhry asked him as to who is responsible for these problems. “It is the Law Ministry and Law Minister Babar Awan,” he replied, adding that the law minister was not allowing him for one or the other reasons.
The chief justice asked the AG that his statement was being recorded by the court and he should tell the Law Ministry. “I will not get back from my statement,” the AG replied. The court said if the law minister was posing a stumbling block in the process, then the court would call him to account for the same.
“If the law secretary does not show up at the court, then the law minister would be called,” the CJ said. The AG, however, said the law secretary was a wonderful person and he used to call him ‘Sir’. At this, the chief justice said: “You should, as he is your secretary.”
Meanwhile, the court called the law secretary after an hour. Secretary Law Justice (retd) Muhammad Aqil Mirza, while appearing before the court, submitted that he had contacted Law Minister Babar Awan and he was told by the minister that he had not met the attorney general for the last one week.

link: http://www.thenews.com.pk/updates.asp?id=102011

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