LAHORE: The Lahore High Court on Monday sought a reply from the Punjab government on a petition challenging transfers, postings, appointments and suspensions of the officials made by Chief Minister Hamza Shehbaz.

Munir Ahmad, a citizen, filed the petition through Advocate Azhar Siddique pleading that the respondent (Hamza) was not a lawfully elected chief minister. He said the election of the respondent was challenged before the court and the matter was still pending adjudication.

The counsel argued that public officials could not act in a manner that was unwarranted under law as the functionaries were bound to structure their exercise of discretion and to proceed in accordance with the mandate of the law.

He said there was no cabinet in the province and the chief minister had been making decisions on his own. He said all the decisions being made by the chief minister were in violation of the Supreme Court’s famous judgement of “Mustafa Impex” wherein it had been held that the prime minister and the chief minister could not take decisions in the absence of the cabinet.

The counsel asked the court to set aside the appointments, suspension and transfers/postings of the government officers made by the chief minister for being unlawful.

Chief Justice Muhammad Ameer Bhatti sought a reply from the government by May 25 and directed a law officer to assist the court on the definition of a government.

LAW OFFICERS: Lahore High Court Chief Justice Muhammad Ameer Bhatti on Monday denied stay to 19 provincial law officers against new appointments in the advocate general office and sought a detailed written reply of the Punjab government by June 1.

The chief justice was hearing a petition of Anis Hashmi and other law officers removed by the PML-N government in the province.

Petitioner’s counsel Haroon Duggal asked the court to stay the new appointments of the law officers till a decision of the petition.

The chief justice observed that the lawyers should not initiate legal battles against each other.

He noted that in past majority of the law officers would continue to work despite the change of the political government. However, he said, the practice of appointing new law officers by every new government had been witnessed for quit sometime.

Additional Advocate General Jawaad Yaqoob opposed the petition saying the government was fully empowered to appoint and terminate the law officers.

The chief justice adjourned further hearing till June 1 and directed Mr Yaqoob to apprise the court whether the chief minister could pass the impugned order in the absence of the cabinet.

Published in Dawn,May 24th, 2022

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