ISLAMABAD: Almost one month after he was named the country’s top lawyer, Advocate Mansoor Usman Awan on Thursday expressed his inability to take charge as Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP).
Mr Awan, who was appointed on Dec 23, 2022, was frustrated by the inordinate delay on part of the law ministry to issue notification of his appointment, a source close to him told Dawn.
He conveyed his intention to not take the office in a letter to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.
“Due to unavoidable professional commitments, I will be unable to serve as the Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) at this time,” stated Mr Awan.
“Last month, you had offered me to serve as the AGP, for which I am very grateful,” he said in a one-page letter addressed to the prime minister.
In December, President Arif Alvi approved the appointment after accepting the resignation of former attorney general Ashtar Ausaf Ali who had left the office in Oct 2022 for health reasons.
But even after 27 days, the law ministry was yet to notify Mr Awan’s appointment as the AGP.
Since his nomination as the top lawyer, he had put on hold his appearance in a number of cases he had been pleading before several courts.
Mr Awan also met PM Shehbaz a few weeks ago for consultation on some legal issues, the source claimed, adding even the latter was surprised over the delay in issuing the notification.
“He became victim to intra-institutional polarity,” the source said, adding the hunt for a new candidate has started.
Before his letter to the prime minister, Mr Awan met with Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial on Wednesday.
Ever since the PDM government came to power in April 2022, Additional Attorney General (AAG) Chaudhry Aamir Rehman has represented the federal government before the Supreme Court in a majority of cases as Mr Ali opted out of most hearings owing to his health condition.
Last week, the delay in notifying the attorney general was also pointed out by the Supreme Court.
Justice Qazi Faez Isa, who was heading a division bench, ordered Federal Law Secretary Raja Naeem to appear before the court on the next date and to apprise as to who was serving as the AGP.
In his order, Justice Isa remarked the AGP’s office was a constitutional post and cannot be left vacant since the Constitution has no provision for an acting AGP.
Besides, the law also required notices to the AGP under Order 27(A) of the Code of Civil Procedure, Justice Isa noted, adding neither the deputy attorney general nor the additional attorney general was a substitute for AGP.
The court order also stated that Mr Ali resigned as the AGP couple of months back and in his stead, no one had been appointed to date despite the lapse of more than a reasonable period.
Mr Awan came to prominence when he represented the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) during the presidential reference on the interpretation of Article 63(A) on the defection of lawmakers.
Earlier Mr Awan had moved a petition on the SC on behalf of the SCBA to declare that Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution disqualifies a politician only till the expiry of the incumbent assembly and not for the lifetime.The challenge was perceived to have been filed in an attempt to rescue PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif and former PTI leader Jehangir Tareen who have been disqualified for life. The petition is still pending.
Published in Dawn, January 20th, 2023
Dear visitor, the comments section is undergoing an overhaul and will return soon.