Law Minister Farooq H Naek moved the Contempt of Court Bill of 2012 in the National Assembly or lower house of parliament this evening. It was subsequently passed after a brief debate amidst protests from the main opposition PML-N, which is opposed to the bill.
President Zardari had convened a special session of parliament to introduce the bill. It will also be moved in the Senate and is expected to be passed as the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party has a majority in the upper house of parliament. The government intends to get the bill passed by both houses before the apex court takes up the issue of reviving the corruption cases against Zardari on Jul 12.
The Contempt of Court Bill provides blanket immunity to top government functionaries for executive actions. It can also be used to launch disciplinary proceedings against a judge without such a move coming under the ambit of contempt. Senior PPP leader Raja Pervez Ashraf became the premier last month after his predecessor, Yousuf Raza Gilani, was disqualified by a Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry for refusing to approach Swiss authorities to reopen graft cases against Zardari.
The apex court has been pushing the PPP-led government to revive the cases against the President since Dec 2009, when it annulled a graft amnesty issued by former military ruler Pervez Musharraf that benefited Zardari and over 8,000 others.