Anwar Mansoor apologises 'unconditionally' for his remarks against SC judges

Updated 21 Feb 2020

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In a statement, former attorney general Anwar Mansoor Khan says . — AFP/File
In a statement, former attorney general Anwar Mansoor Khan says . — AFP/File

Former attorney general Anwar Mansoor Khan, who handed in his resignation on Thursday after his remarks against Supreme Court (SC) judges, submitted a written apology to the court on Friday.

In a statement, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, Khan said: "The undersigned is sorry and withdraws his statement made on February 18 and unconditionally apologises for having made the same."

It added that Khan “has the highest regard and respect for the honourable court and cannot think of causing any adverse comment as to the honour, honesty, and integrity of the honourable court".

Khan had submitted his resignation a day after levelling allegations against some members of the SC bench hearing petitions challenging the filing of a presidential reference against Justice Qazi Faez Isa. His statements were subsequently expunged by the court.

However, making an appearance on DawnNewsTV's programme NewsEye, Khan had said the government knew about the remarks he was going to make in the court that eventually cost him his job as the country's top law officer.

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

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

Speaking on GeoTV's Aaj Shahzeb Khanzada kay Sath, Naseem had 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?"

Naseem, when asked if he spoke to the attorney general after the remarks were made, had 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 we 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," Naseem had added.

Speaking to ARY News in the show Powerplay, Khan had contradicted Naseem’s statement and had 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 had 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 had 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 had 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 had 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 had 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 had added.

Resignation

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

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court had ordered Khan to tender an apology or come up with "some material" on the basis of which he had 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 Isa.

Responding to Khan's remarks, the PBC had issued a strongly-worded condemnation of the former attorney general's comments, calling for his resignation.

Soon after Khan's resignation, the federal government submitted a statement to the court distancing itself from the comments in question.

Issued by the ministry of law and justice, the government in its response 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 Khashihur Rehman had read.