A Pakistani court while hearing a petition against President Asif Ali Zardari for contempt of court over his holding of dual offices on Friday said defiance of judiciary's orders in the name of immunity was not acceptable.
Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial of the Lahore High Court made the observation while hearing a petition seeking action against Zardari under the contempt of court law for not acting on the court's earlier order which said it expected him to give up his political office as head of the ruling PPP.
"Refusing to accept the court's order is tantamount to shaking the foundation of the Constitution," said Bandial, who is heading a five-judge bench that is hearing the petition.
"In the name of immunity no one is allowed to flout the orders of the court," he said.
Justice Mansoor Ali Shah, another member of the bench, asked petitioner Munir Ahmed's counsel A K Dogar whether the President enjoyed immunity even if he committed a murder.
Dogar said such an act would be considered an "individual" action and the President would have to face the law.
Dogar said the Supreme Court had already struck down the PPP-led federal government's adoption of a law giving immunity to important personalities like the President, Prime Minister, Governors and ministers.
He said Zardari could not violate the law just because he was the President.
Giving the example of former US President Bill Clinton, Dogar, who is also the lawyer for Jamaat-ud-Dawah chief Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, said: "Bill Clinton had to appear in court when it came to his personal conduct. He did not have immunity."
The court subsequently adjourned the matter till Monday.
The government's lawyer yesterday told the bench that the court had only stated that it expected the President to give up his political office and it had not issued any direct order asking Zardari to step down as head of the Pakistan Peoples Party.
The petitioner has contended in court that the President had not dissociated himself from his political office as was expected by a full bench of the Lahore High Court.
He claimed that the use of the presidency for "partisan political activities" by Zardari was illegal and amounted to contempt of the High Court's order of May 2011.