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Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Govt must not protect thieves: SC

The government should not protect the thieves and support a ?black law?, Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry said on Tuesday while heading a full-court hearing of NRO review case.
As 17-member-bench of the Supreme Court on Tuesday continued hearing the review petition on National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO), the chief justice queried as to how the NRO could be defended despite attorney general?s terming it a black law. The court questioned that when the federal government was not affected by the December 16, 2009 apex court judgment on NRO, why it had filed a review petition.
?The state should not support the black and the stinking law,? the chief justice observed, adding that it was the federation and not a political party that filed the petition, and if someone has any grievance over the court judgement, he or she should come forward instead of the government. Thousands of people took benefit of the NRO but nobody took recourse to the court nor was the court ruling on the ordinance challenged, he added.
?Will the government protect the one who conceal corruption and pardon any such offence?? the chief justice questioned, adding that federal government wants to give ?premier of the corruption? to those who have remained involved in corruption.
Giving arguments before the bench, former federal law minister Babar Awan, whom the court allowed to appeal the case on behalf of the federation on merit, said the government does not even acknowledge the NRO as its repercussions are not good. He further said notices are taken on various news reports; an affront to a lawyer should also be taken note of, adding the federal government believes in transparent and candid accountability. ?I will talk about accountability and not raise a political slogan for the elimination of corruption,? he added.
In his arguments, Awan said that it is a court order that the accused cannot be punished in absentia and that is why closed cases cannot be reopened. Similarly, the SC cannot instruct the federation to reopen cases abroad. Awan maintained that the attorney general in the recent past had written the letter to the (Swiss) authorities without taking advice.
The function of the attorney general for Pakistan was abused, said Babar Awan. He held that the court had ignored the law of past and close transaction, adding that neither the court had authority to reopen overseas cases to investigation nor it can instruct the federation to reopen cases abroad.
The chief justice questioned if the government is backing a law under which corruption flourished. He further said that a federation gains popularity if it does not support a black law and appreciated the current parliament for not approving the NRO.
On a point that NRO was not the deal between two parties but the then cabinet had fully approved it and was legally promulgated by the then president, Justice Jawwad S Khawaja asked Awan whether he wanted to say that NRO was a legal law and should be enacted again. The learned counsel said no there were certain points, which he would not press, and it was on of those.
The chief justice said earlier the federation was insisting that people who have benefited from NRO should be tried in accordance with law, but now the federation defending the corrupt people. He said: ?When the federation is coming to the defence of NRO we are very much disturbed.?
Justice Sarmad Jalal Usmany said: ?If an individual is aggrieved by the judgment of this court then he should come forward but not in the garb of the federation.? Justice Nasirul Mulk remarked that those who benefited from NRO should be tried in accordance with the law.
Justice Saqib Nisar said that the persons who have plundered the national wealth are talking about the past and closed transaction, which undoubtedly apply in this case as documents of corruption are available. The court said that the federation could not protect any thief and criminal.
Babar Awan responded that the PPP has not protected corrupt persons, while in the past people were not only protected, but over protected. He said the federation complain is that they were not heard properly. Justice Jawwad asked Babar Awan: ?We understand you will stand by the stand taken by the federal government earlier. The learned counsel said that the federation stands for accountability and no vengeance.
The Chief Justice asked the former law minister to show a single word from the judgment where the court has condemned the federation or the verdict adversely operating against the federation. He added that the court has rather helped the federal government in recovering plundered and looted national wealth. In Rental Power Plant case Rs4.5, given to Reshma as advance was recovered. He stated the federation led by Yousuf Raza Gilani should not support NRO.
When former law minister pleaded that federation represent the will of the people. Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa said you mean to say that federation is for the masses and it has to take care of everyone and in the masses there are thieves and murderers, and if it would not protect them then who would defend them?
Babar Awan said the words that late Benazir Bhutto entered into a deal with Musharraf should be expunged from the NRO judgment. He said late Benazir Bhutto entered into deal not in personal capacity, but was representing the biggest party of the country. He said the PPP the biggest political party represents the will of the people. Justice Sarmad said the federation is not one political party and the chief justice executive of the government does not represent one party but the entire federation. He said if the verdict is against the BB then let come legal heirs of BB come forward.
The chief justice said the president, PM and ministers are for the whole country and not just a party. Justice Muhammad Sair Ali said the PM and ministers take oath not to protect one party but the whole country. Paying tribute to the parliament he said it did not touch the ?stinking law? and it was not validated under the 18th Amendment. He said that people who were affected by the apex court judgment on NRO did not come before the court.

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