Pak: Bill passed to protect leaders from contempt of court

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Islamabad, Jul 12: Pakistan's parliament has passed a bill aimed at protecting top government leaders from contempt of court proceedings and countering the Supreme Court's efforts to pressure the premier to revive graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari.

The Senate or upper house approved the Contempt of Court Bill of 2012 by a majority after a heated debate late last night. The bill was passed by the National Assembly or lower house of parliament on Monday. The bill is intended to save new Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf from possible disqualification by the apex court for refusing to reopen corruption cases against Zardari in Switzerland.

The Senate passed the bill just a day before the Supreme Court resumed hearing of the case related to the graft charges against the President. The Supreme Court had given the premier till today to indicate whether he will ask Swiss authorities to reopen the graft cases against the President.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry disqualified former premier Yousuf Raza Gilani on Jun 19 following his conviction of contempt in April for refusing to reopen the cases. The Contempt of Court Bill will have to be signed by Zardari to become law. The bill provides blanket immunity to top government functionaries, including the President and Prime Minister, for executive actions.

PTI

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