ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Friday stayed the appointment of dozens of law officers in BS-20 and BS-21 made by law minister Fawad Chaudhry.

Mr Chaudhry, who was given the additional charge of the ministry a day before the voting on no-confidence motion, prepared a summary to denotify assistant attorneys general, deputy attorneys general and additional attorneys general across the country and moved another summary to appoint law officers to replace them.

Assistant Attorney General Intizar Khokhar and others filed a petition in the IHC requesting the court to set aside the summary.

The petitioners alleged that Mr Chaudhry was given the additional charge of the ministry for a single day, however, he started inducting blue-eyed lawyers as law officers.

Fawad Chaudhry had moved summary to denotify dozens of attorneys, and then another to appoint law officers in their place, petition says

Talking to Dawn, Assistant Attorney General Atiq Siddiqui, a leader of Insaf Lawyers Forum, said the prime minister had assigned the law ministry to Mr Chaudhry at a crucial juncture but the latter misused his authority.

According to him, the process to denotify about 91 law officers had been initiated and Mr Chaudhry had convinced the prime minister over the new appointment on flimsy grounds.

Interestingly, the acting law minister completed almost all the codal formalities i.e. approval from the federal cabinet, prime minister and the president, and was about to notify these appointments when Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani of the IHC on the petition of the law officers summoned the original record.

Additional Attorney General Qasim Wadud along with Owais Numan Kundi, additional secretary; and Aftab Ahmed, section officer, Ministry of Law and Justice; contended in the court that the case to denotify law officers in the entire country as well as the appointment of new law officers in terms of Central Law Officers Ordinance 1970 had already been approved through the summary forwarded to the prime minister, which was further approved by the president of Pakistan.

Mr Wadud, however, said the new appointments had not been notified so far.

On the other hand, counsel for the petitioners contended that in these peculiar circumstances the summary moved to the prime minister and further to the president for approval regarding dispensation of services of the law officers at various stations was based on mala fide as the minister and law secretary were well aware that the resolution of no-confidence against the prime minister was likely to be taken up.

But the summary had been processed without any consultation with the attorney general for Pakistan, hence processed deliberately to accommodate blue-eyed persons on political consideration.

When Justice Kayani asked the additional attorney general to point out the reasons put forward in the summary before the prime minister, which was forwarded to the president for his approval, he placed a single document comprising three lines initiated by solicitor general without any reasons.

He observed: “This aspect prima facie justified the grounds raised by the petitioners’ side, adding that “at this stage, this court is not in a position to adjudicate upon the question of pleasure as to whether the government is ready to retain or dispense with the services of law officers, especially when there is political turmoil in the country created due to the no-confidence motion against the prime minister”.

Justice Kayani issued an interim order and maintained the status quo.

The law officers took a sigh of relief since they were expecting that the government could not survive the no-confidence motion and would cease on Saturday.

Further hearing in the matter was adjourned for a fortnight.

Published in Dawn, April 9th, 2022

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