Newly appointed Attorney General of Pakistan Khalid Jawed Khan on Monday refused to represent the government in the presidential reference against Justice Qazi Faez Isa, citing a "conflict of interest".
Jawed then asked the court to accept the government's application for Additional Attorney General Amir Rehman to argue the case.
"Additional Attorney General Amir Rehman has been preparing this case," Jawed told the court.
However, the additional attorney general told the court that he would be abroad for some official task till March 20, and so the hearing should be set on a date after that.
Justice Umer Ata Bandial — who was heading the full bench hearing the case — responded to this by setting the next hearing's date for March 30.
"One of the judges on the bench will be away after March 20 and we will hear the case upon his return," Justice Bandial said.
"The hearing would not be moved forward again, the government representative should be present in court on the given date," Justice Bandial said.
Justice Bandial further announced that the request for action against Minister for Law and Justice Farogh Nasim will also be heard on March 30.
The Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) had on Saturday urged Prime Minister Imran Khan to "expel" Law Minister Farogh Naseem from the federal cabinet in the "larger national interest" after the controversy over remarks by former attorney general Anwar Mansoor Khan against Supreme Court judges.
"Your request has not been assigned a number," Justice Bandial told PBC Vice Chairman Abbad Saqi.
"This is a case regarding the justice system's freedom. If I have an inkling that the case is against the justice system's freedom, you will not see me here," Attorney General Jawed told the court.
"We have no vested interest in this case," the PBC vice chairman said.
Farogh regrets 'choice of words' against ex-AGP
Federal Minister for Law and Justice Farogh Nasim, in an informal conversation with journalists today, said he regretted the words he used when defending the government against allegations it had prior knowledge about the arguments former attorney general Anwar Mansoor Khan was going to make in court.
“Mansoor sahib [ex-AGP] is like my elder brother, he is also like an elder brother to Khalid [current AGP]. I regret my choice of words [against former AG Mansoor] while on Shahzeb Khanzada's show,” Nasim said.
But the law minister went on to add that despite his regret over his choice of words, “Our perspective on the matter is the same,” implying that they [government] did not have any prior knowledge of what Mansoor said in court.
Former attorney general Mansoor had stirred up controversy when he made serious allegations against the Supreme Court judges hearing a case concerning the presidential reference against Justice Isa.
The remarks, which were expunged from the record after the apex court restricted reporting on them, had led to the former attorney general’s resignation from his position.
After resigning from his post, Mansoor had — on various television channels — claimed that the government, specifically law minister Nasim, had prior knowledge of the arguments he made in court, including the now expunged comments.
Defending himself and the government against these allegations on GeoTV’s Aaj Shahzeb Khanzada kay Saath, Nasim 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?"