ISLAMABAD: For the second consecutive day, the vacant post of the attorney general for Pakistan (AGP) became a source of embarrassment for the federal government as Islamabad High Court sought an explanation for the delay in the appointment.

A day ago, the Supreme Court expressed displeasure over the government’s inability to fill the AGP’s office, which had been vacant since October.

On Tuesday, IHC Justice Tariq Mehmood Jahangiri sought reasons for delay in the appointment of the government’s top law officer while hearing a petition filed by former additional auditor general Irfan Jahangir Watoo against the Federal Public Service Commission (FPSC).

As Justice Jahangiri issued notice to the AGP for assistance in the case, Assistant Attorney General Malik Muhammad Iqbal Kallue informed the court that the post was vacant.

The judge directed the law ministry to explain within two weeks why no appointment has been made to fill the post.

Earlier, the court also rebuked the FPSC for failing to comply with its orders and warned to summon the commission’s chairman in person at the next hearing.

In the case brought before the court, Mr Wattoo contended that the FPSC was following and applying a set of rules named “General Instructions” for conducting Central Superior Service (CSS) and other exams.

However, the rules/instructions have no legal backing as they were never approved by the federal government.

He challenged the instructions issued by the FPSC, which are available on its website, for recruitment against the posts of BS-16 and above.

Mr Watoo argued Rule 10 of the Federal Public Service Commission Ordinance, 1977, empowered the federal government — and not the FPSC — to draft rules for competitive exams and recruitments in government departments by publishing a notification in the official gazette.

The general instructions issued by the FPSC, falling within the definition of rules, have not been framed as per Rule 10 of the ordinance, Mr Watoo contended and requested the court to set them aside.

At this point, Justice Jahangiri rebuked the FPSC official present in the court for not submitting the report on the matter as ordered by the court.

During the last hearing on Oct 7, 2022, the court gave the FPSC two weeks to furnish its reply. The commission was yet to comply with the order even after the lapse of more than three months.

The FPSC deputy director (legal) sought two weeks to present the report which was granted by the court.The judge however warned in case of non-compliance, the FPSC chairman will be summoned to appear in person and explain reason for delay in implementing the orders.

Published in Dawn, January 25th, 2023

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