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SC dismisses petition challenging law minister’s membership of Pakistan Bar Council

Updated May 16, 2019

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PBC counsel argued that Law Minister Farrogh Naseem committed professional misconduct by retaining PBC membership even after appointment to ministry. ─ APP/File
PBC counsel argued that Law Minister Farrogh Naseem committed professional misconduct by retaining PBC membership even after appointment to ministry. ─ APP/File

ISLAMABAD: The Sup­reme Court on Wednes­day dismissed a plea moved by the Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) seeking a declaration against Law Minister Farogh Naseem that he could not be its member and minister at the same time.

“Why are you seeking an unnecessary judgement from the Supreme Court which in the end will become precedence for future and will erode the authority of the council as well as its different standing committees?” asked acting Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed.

Heading a three-judge Supreme Court bench, the acting chief justice had taken up the petition of the PBC — a mother organisation that regulates the affairs of the legal fraternity — that had requested the apex court to order that the minister cease to be a member of the council after becoming a federal minister under the provisions of Section 11C of the Legal Practitio­ners and Bar Councils Act 1973 as well as Rules 108-O.

Senior counsel Kamran Murtaza, who moved the petition in his capacity as former vice chairman of the PBC, argued before the court that Mr Naseem had committed professional misconduct by retaining the membership of the council even after having been appointed as minister.

“Whosoever becomes the minister will he be committing misconduct?” the acting chief justice asked, wondering how could the bar council seek a pre-emptive order from the Sup­reme Court. He recalled that after becoming minister, Farogh Naseem had never appeared before any court.

“You people are mature and seasoned and should settle your issues on your own,” the acting chief justice observed while offering a way out by asking the petitioner to withdraw the petition. The petitioner, however, chose to get the petition dismissed from the Supreme Court.

Kamran Murtaza, in his petition, had contended that Section 11C of the Legal Practitioners and Bar Councils Act 1973 dealt with the cessation of PBC membership, stating that a member of the council would cease to be a member if he was appointed to an office of profit in the service of Pakistan, or suspended or removed from practice under the provisions of Chapter VII, or incurred any of the disqualifications specified in Section 11B like if he was dismissed or removed from the service of government or of a public statutory corporation, convicted for an offence involving moral turpitude, and had been found guilty of professional misconduct.

The petition argued that the minister could not stay as a PBC member in the light of the law laid down by the Supreme Court in the cases of 2010 Federal of Pakistan vs Dr Mubashir Hassan and 2013 Zafar Mehmood Mughal vs Sajjad Akbar Abbasi.

Published in Dawn, May 16th, 2019