LAHORE: The Lahore High Court on Wednesday directed the Punjab government to present the summary and notification about premature retirement of former chief secretary retired Maj Azam Suleman Khan.

A two-judge bench comprising Chief Justice Muhammad Qasim Khan and Justice Asim Hafeez was hearing a petition against appointment of the former chief secretary as Punjab Ombudsman.

At the outset of the hearing, acting Advocate General of Punjab Shan Gul said a larger bench needed to be constituted to decide the matter in hand.

Chief Justice Khan observed that the constitution of a full bench could be considered at a later stage.

The chief justice said the court wanted to know that on what basis the law was amended to make any person of ‘’known integrity’’ eligible for the ombudsman’s post.

“Prima facie the law seems to have been amended to appoint blue-eyed persons,’’ the chief justice said in his remarks.

The bench adjourned further hearing for two weeks and directed the government to submit the summary and notification about the premature retirement of the former chief secretary.

On previous hearing, the bench had linked the fate of Mr Azam Khan’s appointment as ombudsman with the final decision of the petition filed by a lawyer, Zaheer Abbas.

The petitioner argued that the law had been amended with mala fide intention to accommodate favourite individuals and officers.

He said only former judges of the high court were eligible for ombudsman’s slot as the office required a law-knowing incumbent.

However, he said, the amended law empowered the government to appoint any person of “known integrity”.

The lawyer argued that the government could appoint any of its favourite officers declaring him a person of “known integrity”. He alleged that the newly-appointed ombudsman had sympathies towards the sitting government.

He argued that the impugned appointment had been made without a mandatory consultation with the chief justice of the high court.

Published in Dawn, July 16th, 2020