Islamabad, 27 April 2012. In a ruling that added more chaos than clarity to an already messy and murky scenario, the Supreme Court handed down a symbolic punishment lasting less than a minute to Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Thursday, making him the first ever chief executive to be convicted for committing contempt.
Wearing a black ‘sherwani’ instead of the suits he has usually preferred for his previous court appearances, the prime minister walked to the Supreme Court along with his son Musa Gilani, members of his cabinet and a crowd of supporters.
Pushed and shoved as well as showered with rose petals, the prime minister made his way to Courtroom 4.
The ruling convicted him for contempt and sentenced him “until the rising of the court”. The time period lasted only 37 seconds, after which the now convicted prime minister exited the premises.
Blue-clad officers stood hand-in-hand, encircling the prime minister and his supporters as he inched his way toward his car in an area overrun by local and foreign journalists as well as the PPP walahs.
Moment of truth
The ruling passed by the seven judges comprising the bench was short. The entire affair lasted only a few minutes.
“Can the respondent (Prime Minister Gilani) come to the rostrum?” asked Justice Nasirul Mulk, who had been heading the bench hearing the contempt case for over three months, before he read out the judgment.
“For the reasons to be recorded later the accused Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani, Prime Minister of Pakistan/Chief Executive of the Federation, is found guilty of and convicted for contempt of court… after our satisfaction that the contempt committed by him is substantially detrimental… and tends to bring this court and the judiciary of this country into ridicule.
“… (W)e note that the findings and the conviction for contempt of court… are likely to entail some serious consequences in terms of Article 63(1g) [disqualification] of the constitution….
“He is, therefore, punished under Section 5 (punishment) of the Contempt of Court Ordinance (ordinance V of 2003) with imprisonment till the rising of the court today.”
Only moments after the short order, the bench rose, and despite repeated efforts by Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan to attract the attention of the court, the judges exited the room. Ahsan repeated, “My lord, my lord, my lord,” but to no avail.
Soon after the court was adjourned, the bench released the following statement:
“The respondent appeared in person with his learned counsel. The short order passed in the matter of contempt of court was read out in open court. After that, the respondent/convict remained in the custody of the court till his release upon rising of the court for the day.”
Barrister Aitzaz, who represented the prime minister in the contempt case, later announced that an appeal would be filed against the decision.