Islamabad: Pakistan's Supreme Court on Wednesday issued notices to four senior leaders of the ruling PPP, including two ministers, to explain why contempt proceedings should not be initiated against them for allegedly making remarks against the judiciary following an interim order for a probe into the memo scandal.
    
A two-judge bench issued the notices to Information Minister Firdous Ashiq Awan, Religious Affairs Minister Khursheed Shah and former ministers Qamar Zaman Kaira and Babar Awan in connection with the remarks they had made at a news conference on December 1.
   
After the apex court issued an interim order for a probe into the memo issue, the four PPP leaders addressed a news conference at which they questioned and criticised the ruling.
   
Babar Awan was particularly critical of the verdict.
   
The apex court subsequently sought an explanation from Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, who said in a statement submitted in court that his government had not shown any disrespect to the judiciary.
   
The apex court was not satisfied with this explanation and Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry asked the two-judge bench to look into the matter.

During Wednesday's proceedings, the bench heard arguments by Attorney General Anwar-ul-Haq, who again said the PPP leaders had not intended to malign the judiciary.
   
The bench, however, contended that the transcript of the December 1 news conference showed that the PPP leaders had made several remarks that were insulting to the judiciary.
   
The bench issued notices to the four PPP leaders to explain by January 13 why contempt of court proceedings should not be launched against them.
   
The apex court recently formed a commission to investigate the issue of the secret memo that had sought American help to stave off a possible military coup in Pakistan after the killing of Osama bin Laden in May.

(Agencies)