LAHORE, May 15: The Lahore High Court chief justice on Wednesday set aside a notification issued by the provincial caretaker government about termination of service of 20 law officers of Punjab advocate general’s office.
The chief justice passed this order on petitions moved by several additional and assistant advocate generals removed by the caretaker government on May 2. The terminations were followed by appointment of 19 new law officers.
The chief justice, however, ruled the instant order would not have any effect on the newly appointed law officers.
Chaudhry Maqsoodul Hasan, Imtiaz Ahmad Kaifi and others had challenged their removal through Advocate Zakaur Rehman and Advocate Azhar Siddique.
Setting aside the impugned notification issued by the caretaker government, the chief justice observed that the purpose of the the interim setup was only to conduct fair and free elections.
The CJ also took note of retaining some of the law officers at the AGP’s office without any classification. However, both removed and retained law officers were appointed by the previous government.
The chief justice ruled there was no rationality in retaining and removing the law officers without explaining reasons for such action.
On the point of use of word “removal” in the law officers’ termination order, AGP Shahid Karim had argued on the previous hearing that the expression of “removal from service” did not cast stigma on the petitioners as the expression was derived from the language of law department’s manual.
In the order, the CJ, however, remarked that the language used for petitioners’ ouster was legally objectionable on part of the respondent authorities. The language and terminology of colonial legislation was affecting fundamental rights protected in the Constitution, the CJ further remarked.
The CJ observed the AGP and the respondents did not try to justify the impugned notification on merits, but defended it on the point of employment to the pleasure of the government.
The judge said the stand taken by the respondents was not satisfactory.
The petitioners had taken plea that the discretion exercised by caretaker government was not only vague but in violation of superior courts’ judgments.
They said the government had deliberately ignored its duty to comply with a SC judgment in Tauqir Sadiq’s case with respect to appointments in autonomous regulatory bodies.
They further pleaded that the whole process was also contrary to a ban imposed by the Election Commission of Pakistan on appointments and transfers. They prayed to the court to declare the notification of their service termination illegal and unlawful