Former AG Khan insists govt knew he was going to make remarks against SC judges

Updated 21 Feb 2020

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Anwar Mansoor Khan says law ministry should come clean about what he said to them before making his statement in court. — DawnNewsTV/File
Anwar Mansoor Khan says law ministry should come clean about what he said to them before making his statement in court. — DawnNewsTV/File

Anwar Mansoor Khan, who resigned as the Attorney General for Pakistan on Thursday, said the government knew about the remarks he was going to make in the Supreme Court that eventually cost him his job as the country's top law officer.

"Everyone knew what I was talking about and everyone knew what statements I would make. So to now make the assertion that I was speaking on my own would be incorrect," he said speaking on DawnNewsTV's programme NewsEye.

When asked again if anyone from the government knew what he was going to say in court, Khan said: “I received this information from relevant quarters and when one receives information, they ought not to sit on it.”

However, when asked if it was an independent decision to use the information in court, the attorney general admitted that it was his discretion to share that information.

However, when asked if he would like to disclose the identities of the people who knew about these discussions, Khan said:

"It is very difficult for me to disclose identities. If I wanted to disclose these details, I would have done so already. For me, the norms and integrity of the institutions is very important."

On the other hand, Federal Minister for Law and Justice Farogh Nasim denied having prior knowledge about the former attorney general's intention to make those remarks.

Speaking on GeoTV's Aaj Shahzeb Khanzada kay Sath, Nasim said: "This is a lie. We did not have any knowledge about what he was going to say [...] It was his own argument and he said it on his own. The government has nothing to do with anything he said and we did not know about it either. You tell me; if the government really knew what he was about to say, would we have let him say it?"

Nasim, when asked if he spoke to the attorney general after the remarks were made, said: "When a lawyer is making his arguments in a court, they do so without consulting others. We could not interrupt him and so when he heard it, we were shocked and could not understand what he was saying.

"The bench cross questioned him extensively and he withdrew his statement. And by the way, he withdrew the statement himself. We gave him no such instructions. And remember, I was not sitting there as the law minister, I was sitting there in my personal capacity," Nasim added.

Speaking to ARY News in the show Powerplay, Khan contradicted Naseem’s statement and said: “They were all present and were aware of everything. And when I gave that statement, they appreciated me for it. And later when we came out, both of them [Naseem and Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Accountability Barrister Shahzad Akbar] came to my room and nothing was said. They did not say that I should have not said what I said.”

He further said that “discussions were held” with both Naseem and Akbar before the statements were made in court. Khan, however, admitted that he had never spoken to Prime Minister Imran khan about the matter.

When asked by the show’s host if he was consulted during the investigation of the reference against Justice Isa or when “a private firm was hired to spy on the Justice’s family”, Khan said:

“No. In fact, I did not know about it at all. I was unaware of what happened, when it happened or what did not happen. I only received the final draft of the reference and all they asked me was whether I would pursue the case in front of Supreme Judicial Council and I responded to them by saying that it was my duty to proceed with the matter as Attorney General for Pakistan.”

To clarify, the show’s host asked Khan: “Are you saying that the attorney general was not consulted regarding the investigations and the hiring of private investigators? Was your legal counsel not sought?"

To this, Khan said: “I was not consulted at any stage. I was only given the final draft and was asked if I would proceed with the case and I said yes because it was my job as attorney general.”

Khan also contradicted claims from the law ministry that it had asked for his resignation.

“They [the ministry] should come clean about what I said to them or what they said to me when I met them [after making the statements in court],” Khan added.

The former attorney general tendered his resignation a day after levelling allegations against some members of the Supreme Court bench hearing petitions challenging the filing of presidential reference against Justice Qazi Faez Isa. His statements were expunged by the court.

In his resignation letter addressed to President Arif Alvi, the attorney general said he was leaving his post after the Pakistan Bar Council's demand.

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court ordered Khan to tender an apology or come up with "some material" on the basis of which he made certain remarks that concerned members of a bench that is hearing a set of challenges against the filing of the presidential reference against Justice Qazi Faez Isa.

The order came after the top law officer had made a controversial statement, now expunged, about the apex court bench.

Soon after Khan tendered his resignation, a response submitted on behalf of the federal government in the Supreme Court, said the "oral statement" made by the formal attorney general on February 18 was "unauthorised, without instructions and knowledge of the federal government and the answering respondents, and totally uncalled for".

"It is pointed out that the federal government of Pakistan and the answering respondents hold the superior judiciary for Pakistan in the highest respect and esteem.

"Accordingly, the federal government and the answering respondents dissociate themselves from the statement of the learned attorney general," the response submitted by Law and Justice Division Secretary Muhammad Khashih-ur-Rehman read.