LAHORE: Lahore High Court Chief Justice Muhammad Qasim Khan on Thursday issued notices to the Punjab chief secretary, home secretary and the law secretary to explain as to why contempt proceedings should not be initiated against them for not ensuring compliance of a stay order against using judicial powers by executive officers in districts.

Chief Justice Khan had on July 9 suspended a Punjab government’s notification that conferred judicial powers upon deputy commissioners and additional deputy commissioners.

During the hearing, a provincial law officer told the court that the government withdrew the impugned notification after the court had suspended it.

The CJ observed that a stay was issued in the presence of the government’s law officer but the order was not complied with deliberately. He wondered that as to how the executive officers continued awarding punishment under price control law if the government had withdrawn the notification.

The law officer said the chief secretary had telephonically conveyed the court’s order to all DCs and ACs.

However, the chief justice did not buy the argument of the law officer and also slammed the performance of secretary law.

CJ Khan remarked, “The manner in which the government has been issuing notifications is unprecedented as it seems the government is being ill-advised.”

The chief justice adjourned further hearing till Aug 26 and sought replies from the chief secretary, home secretary and law secretary to explain their position.

The judge had already issued contempt notices to deputy commissioner Sheikhupura and assistant commissioner Muridke for exercising judicial power after the court suspended the notification.

Tanvir Abdullah filed the petition through Barrister Momin Malik contended that under the Constitution and prevalent law executive and judiciary were two separate entities and they couldn’t interfere into each other’s affairs. However, the Punjab government on June 17 granted powers of magistrate first class to commissioner and deputy commissioners in violation of law.

The counsel pointed out that impugned notification was ultra vires of article 2 & 9 of the Constitution as well as of section 14-A of Code of Criminal procedure1898. He said as per judgments of the superior courts the executive couldn’t exercise judicial powers.

Published in Dawn, August 7th, 2020