Swiss letter saga takes new twist

NRO implementation case
Swiss letter saga takes new twist

ISLAMABAD: The federal government has filed a petition in the Supreme Court requesting the court to review its September 18 order, and called for deletion of different steps listed in the order for writing a letter to the Swiss authorities for reopening of cases against NRO beneficiaries, including President Asif Ali Zardari.

A five-member bench will hear the NRO implementation case today (Wednesday). Deputy Attorney General of Pakistan Dil Muhammad Khan Alizai has filed the review petition on behalf of the federation, seeking review of the September 18 order, as according to it there are errors apparent in it. Legal experts say the deadlock between judiciary and executive over the issue of immunity was likely to stay unresolved; therefore the government has challenged the decision. The apex court has fixed for today the hearing of the government’s review petition.

The court had in its September 18 order mentioned four steps for writing of letter to the Swiss authorities – a written authorisation by the prime minister regarding such implementation, drafting of the relevant communication, examined by the court; dispatch of such communication to and receipt of the same by the Swiss and other authorities; and final confirmation of receipt of the relevant communication by the concerned authorities abroad.

The federal government has contended that the order is against the letter and spirit of para 178 of the NRO judgment as the assertion of certain steps in it has changed the whole complexion of para 178 because the narration of the steps and monitoring the same amounts to revisiting the para 178 of the judgement.

According to the petition, the federal government sincerely desires to resolve the issue in a manner that upholds the dignity of the court and addresses the constitutional and legal concerns of the government. It said the errors, apparent on the face of the record in the order of September 18, “are floating on the surface of the order”. It notes that it is a settled law that an executing court cannot change a concluded and decided judgement or order even with the consent of the parties, and if some change is necessary then the course available to the court was to send back the same to the original court.

The petition said that according to true letter and spirit of para 178, the letter to be written to the Swiss authorities is a federal government letter, which complies with the requirements mentioned therein. It was not envisaged to be a letter of the Supreme Court or approved by the court. The federal government would therefore be justified in writing the letter in accordance with the requirements of para 178 of the judgement and thereafter to place it before this court to report compliance. It asks for correction/review of this “apparent error”, and states that the contention of the petitioner was strengthened by the practice and precedents of the court.

The federation’s viewpoint is that the court had in its order August 8 rightly observed, “Implementation bench cannot go behind a concluded and final judgment or revisit the same.” The main concern of the court during the proceedings is the implementation of para 178 of the judgement, which reads, “Since the NRO 2007 stands declared void ab initio, therefore, any actions taken or suffered under the said law are also non est in law and since the communication by Malik Muhammad Qayyum to various foreign for authorities/courts withdrawing the requests earlier made by the government of Pakistan for mutual legal assistance, surrendering the status of civil party, abandoning the claims to the allegedly laundered money lying in the foreign countries including Switzerland, have also been declared by us to be unauthorised and illegal communication and consequently of no legal effects, therefore, it is declared that the initial requests for mutual legal assistance, securing the status of civil party and the claims lodged to the allegedly laundered money lying in foreign countries including Switzerland are declared never to have been withdrawn. Therefore the federal government and other concerned authorities are ordered to take immediate steps to seek revival of the said requests, claims and status.” – Dailymail