ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Wednesday began hearing the government’s review petition challenging its July 12 order asking the prime minister to write to Swiss authorities for reopening graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari.

A five-member bench of the apex court, headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, was hearing the petition against its earlier order in the NRO implementation case.

The bench also includes Justice Sarmad Jalal Usmani, Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, Justice Gulzar Ahmed, and Justice Ather Saeed.

During the hearing, Attorney General Irfan Qadir requested the formation of a larger bench to hear the appeal, however, the apex court rejected Qadir’s plea.

He moreover said that the bench that issues the order should be the one reviewing it, adding that, the court should wait until all five judges become available.

Justice Asif Saeed Khosa remarked that “all four judges who had announced the July 12 order are present in the court.”

Qadir moreover requested the court to adjourn the hearing until after Eidul Fitr.

The prime minister is above the judiciary, Qadir said, adding that the premier could interpret the Constitution. He said that the judiciary could not interfere in the domain of the executive.

The attorney general said that indicting the former prime minister was the judiciary’s mistake, adding that, the courts could neither make the prime minister party to the case nor give directions to the premier.

Qadir said that the constitution did not give immunity to the prime minister but provided protection to the executive post.

Justice Usmani remarked that the Constitution demanded that the prime minister obey the court’s orders.

The attorney general said that it was not a matter of anyone’s ego and that implementation on Article 248-(1) was necessary for the rule of law and for supremacy of the constitution.

The appeal against the apex court’s order was filed by the attorney general on behalf of the government last week.

The appeal, filed on Wednesday Aug 8, requested the court to review its order in which Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf had been directed to submit an implementation report with respect to writing the contentious letter to Swiss authorities.

It was filed in the backdrop of the issuing of a show-cause notice for contempt of court to Prime Minister Ashraf over his failure to implement the court’s directive of writing the letter.

‘Party will keep electing new PMs until elections’

Earlier on Tuesday, a senior PPP leader Senator Aitzaz Ahsan said that the government would bring another prime minister if the judiciary sent Raja Pervez Ashraf packing for not implementing the judgment in the NRO implementation case.

Talking to reporters, he said: “The judiciary is crossing the limits (set for it under the) Constitution.” Parliament, he said, would keep electing prime ministers if the judiciary continued to disqualify one after another.

Mr Ahsan, who was the counsel for disqualified prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, said the president had complete immunity under the Constitution and the judiciary could not change it.

He accused some political elements of using the judiciary to achieve their nefarious objectives and regretted that when Nawaz Sharif had gone to the court a commission was set up with a notice and a prime minister was sent home in two weeks when Imran Khan filed a petition.

Barrister Ahsan was of the opinion that the judiciary should take up other cases instead of focusing on such petitions. “Neither the judiciary can dissolve parliament nor can the army intervene. The parliament will complete its term,” he said.

He said: “I was earlier with the judiciary because it was on the right and today I am with the one that is on the right.”

Online adds: Answering a question, Barrister Ahsan said: “There is no middle way in the contempt proceedings against Prime Minister Ashraf as the Supreme Court is bound to remove prime ministers in contempt cases like it did in the case of Yousuf Raza Gilani.”

But he said the government would never indulge in any tactics to degrade the judiciary. He said the judiciary was on the wrong track in the NRO implementation case.

Mr Ahsan said Article 248 of the Constitution clearly restricted the prime minister from proceeding against the president, but the judiciary was on a mission to send elected prime ministers home instead of honouring the Constitution.