ISLAMABAD: While advancing his arguments in Panamagate case, Prime Minister’s counsel Makhdoom Ali Khan on Tuesday submitted that if there was any contradiction in the speeches of Prime Minister made to the nation and in the Parliament, the immunity under Article 68 to Parliament’s proceeding from judicial scrutiny would nullify it.
The five members’ larger bench of the apex court headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa heard the Panamagate case.
The Prime Minister’s counsel Makhdoom Ali Khan continued with his arguments. He submitted that Prime Minister’s speech made in the Parliament could not be used as evidence. He added that proceeding of the Parliament including speeches have immunity from judicial scrutiny under Article 68.
Upon this, the presiding judge Asif Saeed Khosa remarked that there were precedents where the courts have reviewed Parliament’s proceeding.
PM counsel maintained that Article 248 provides President, Prime Minister and Governors offices immunity but does not provide blanket cover to the PM as an individual. Makhdoom Ali Khan made it clear that he was just using Article 248 as a reference and not to plead for immunity for the premier.
He further submitted that Article 19 provide freedom of speech to every citizen. Upon this Justice Asif Saeed Khosa remarked that Article 19 of the constitution provide right to freedom of speech but you were not pealing for right rather seeking immunity.
Makhdoom Ali Khan quoted that Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto had also sought immunity in Zahoor Elahi case, upon this Justice Khosa said that in Zahoor Elahi case the Prime Minister had not made the speech in the Parliament. He added that court would not agree apply Zahoor Elahi case’s on the instant matter.
Justice Khosa while addressing Makhdoom Ali Khan said that “yesterday you have argued that Parliamentary proceeding could not be challenged in the court. But in New Zealand, the court declared that speech made in the Parliament can be used as evidence while in UK, the British court had given verdicts declaring that corruption has no parliamentary immunity.”
Upon this, the counsel said that the Prime Minister did not lied in his speech, but there were many judicial precedents regarding speech in parliament cannot be used as evidence.
The PM’s counsel explained that the president, prime minister and governors of Pakistan have constitutional immunity except while discussing judges’ conduct within the Parliament.
He added: if judges’ conduct is discussed in the assembly, then immunity would not be extended to members of the Parliament as Article 68 and 204 prevent members from speaking on judges’ conduct.
On this point, Justice Asif Saeed Khosa remarked that there were instances of the court examining Parliamentary proceedings in the past.
Makhdoom Ali Khan replied saying that there were also instances where the court did not accept speeches as part of the evidence in the past.
Justice Azmat Saeed Sheikh remarked: “there are allegations against your client that his speech was not in conformity of facts on the record and the second allegation is that there are contradictions in his speech made to the nation and the one made in the Parliament. The other allegation is that there is contradiction in the stance taken in the speech and the written reply submitted in the court.”
Justice Azmat Saeed Sheikh said that as per the petitioners there were also contradictions in the statements of father and his children. He remarked that not only the speech made in the parliament was in question rather there were questions on the speech made live to the nation. He remarked that the speech made outside the Parliament did not have any immunity.
Justice Khosa asked from Makhdoom Ali Khan whether the Prime Minister was telling the truth or his children.
Upon this, Makhdoom Ali Khan read out a transcript from the PM speech, arguing that if there was any contradiction in the speech of the PM and his children statements even then the Prime Minister cant not be disqualified.
Justice Khosa asked the counsel: “the Parliament enacted the law and if the court scrutinize the speech made in the Parliament for the purpose of interpretation of law, even then it would be violation?.”
To this, the counsel said that there were many instances where the court did not scrutinize the speech for interpretation of the law.
He said that the question before the court was not the disqualification of mere a member of the Parliament rather the Prime Minister of Pakistan.
To this Justice Khosa said that the question before the court was not of privilege or immunity and.
Later the hearing was adjourned till tomorrow.