ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) has held that the Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) was a constitutional post and it cannot be left vacant since there was no mention of an acting AGP in the Constitution.

The law also requires notice to AGP under Order 27 A of the Code of Civil Procedure (CCP) and to Deputy Attorney General (DAG) or Additional Attorney General (AAG) in certain cases, observed Justice Qazi Faez Isa in a three-page order adding neither DAG nor an AAG was a substitute for AGP.

Justice Isa was heading a two-judge Supreme Court bench that had an appeal moved by the Defence Ministry.

The observation came against the backdrop of a government case hearing on Jan 11, in which Deputy Attorney General (DAG) Raja Shafqat Abbasi appeared on behalf of the federal government but according to the order could not enumerate facts precisely.

Consequently the court asked for AGP so that he could come and render proper assistance. However, on inquiry that who the AGP was, the court was not given a satisfactory answer.

At the heart of the controversy was the non issuance of notification of Mansoor Usman Awan who was appointed as the 37th AGP on Dec 23 after the approval of President Dr Arif Alvi. Mr Usman was appointed to fill the office when his predecessor Ashtar Ausaf Ali tendered his resignation in Oct last due to health reasons.

The court then called upon AAG Chaudhry Aamir Rehman, who was present in the court, to answer the query. But AAG said he was unable to.

It transpires, the order said, Ashtar Ausaf Ali resigned from the post of AGP a couple of months ago and in his stead no one has been appointed till date despite lapse of more than a reasonable period.

The order also cited Article 100 of the constitution and observed that AGP was a constitutional post and it cannot be left vacant.

“We may also assume that when DAG or AAG attends court, he/she does so on instructions received from AGP,” the order said adding AGP, whoever that may be, and the Federal Law Secretary should be in attendance and expect to be properly assisted on the next date of hearing.

Published in Dawn, January 14th, 2023

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