LAHORE: Lahore High Court (LHC) Chief Justice Muhammad Qasim Khan on Thursday directed a deputy attorney general to apprise him of the criteria being observed for induction of retired army officers into the civil service.

Hearing a petition against premature retirement of former chief secretary retired Maj Azam Suleman Khan and his appointment as Punjab ombudsman, the chief justice posed several queries to the law officer with a warning of summoning the secretary of defence if they were not answered appropriately.

CJ Khan also questioned the transparency of the process for nominations of retired army officers by the army chief for their induction into the civil service.

“Whether the retired army officers are nominated by the army chief on the basis of any criteria or personal liking?” the chief justice asked the law officer.

The deputy attorney general stated that the former chief secretary had joined the civil service under a quota reserved for the army. He said the Ministry of Defence had recommended the appointment under the quota reserved for the army officers. However, he sought time from the court when asked to cite the relevant law being exercised for nomination of the army officers for the civil service.

Earlier, Dr Khalid Ranjha submitted an amended reply on behalf of Mr Suleman.

The bench adjourned hearing till Oct 28.

The petitioner had submitted that the law had been amended with malafide intention to accommodate favourite individuals and officers. He said only former judges of the high court were eligible to be appointed as ombudsman as the office required an incumbent having knowledge of law.

However, the petitioner said, the amended law empowered the government to appoint any person of ‘known integrity’. He argued that the government could appoint any blue-eyed officer, 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, October 16th, 2020