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ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Monday imposed a fine of Rs20,000 on Attorney General Ashtar Ausaf for his failure to appear in court and advance the government’s point of view on the length of disqualification under Article 62 (1)(f) of the Constitution.

The fine of Rs20,000 has to be borne by the AG himself to be paid to Fatimid Foundation — an organisation that provides free medical assistance to more than 6,000 children suffering with thalassaemia, haemophilia and other blood-related disorders.

The fine was imposed when Additional Attorney General (AAG) Muhammad Waqar Rana told the court that Mr Ausaf was in Lahore, mourning the loss of iconic rights activist Asma Jahangir.

“We all are in mourning but work cannot be stopped,” observed Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, recalling that Mr Ausaf was at Ms Jahangir’s residence on Sunday.

A five-judge Supreme Court bench was hearing a set of appeals and review petitions to determine the length of disqualification handed down under Article 62 (1)(f).

The AG was expected to commence arguments before the bench when the court assembled in the morning. When the AAG told the court that the AG was in Lahore, the court asked Mr Rana to convey that Mr Ausaf’s presence was needed and he should reach Islamabad by 4pm when the bench would assemble again to hear him.

At the conclusion of the day’s work, the court again asked Mr Rana about the whereabouts of Mr Ausaf. The AAG told the court that he had talked to him and conveyed the directions. But the AG replied that he was in mourning and in Lahore and, therefore, could not reach Islamabad.

“It ill behoves [the] AG not to appear when notified by the court to appear,” the chief justice said, adding that the court would close his defence in the case.

While dictating the order, the chief justice observed that the AG had been notified to appear, which he did not and that he had no good reason for his absence except that he was in mourning over the death of Asma Jahangir.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Bar Council’s (PBC) former vice chairman Ahsan Bhoon said that the non-appearance of Mr Ausaf before the SC was in adherence to the council’s call.

He said the observations made by the chief justice on the absence of the AG were very disappointing. He appeal­ed to the apex court to withdraw its order to impose a fine on Mr Ausaf.

Published in Dawn, February 13th, 2018