LAHORE: A Rawal­pi­ndi additional district & sessions judge (ADSJ) was removed from his post on Saturday, a day after he admonished the defence secretary for not complying with a court order.

A notification issued by the Lahore High Court registrar said ADSJ Waris Ali has been made an officer on special duty (OSD) and moved to Lahore, meaning that he would no longer be hearing the case.

“The honourable chief justice and judges are ple­ased to post Mr Waris Ali, Additional District & Ses­sions Judge, Rawal­pin­­di as OSD at Sessions Court, Lahore in the public interest, with immediate effect,” said a notification issued by the registrar Sheikh Khalid Bashir.

An OSD is a government employee without any charge who continues to receive salaries and other perks.

ADSJ Ali apparently drew the higher-ups’ ire after he, while hearing a case on Friday, ordered the federal government to remove Defence Secre­t­ary retired Lt Gen Hamooduz Zaman.

He had ordered the defence secretary to submit a report on the military’s businesses and their beneficiaries.

The defence secretary neither complied with the order, nor appeared in court.

The lead counsel was also absent when the matter was taken up. His clerk submitted a memo of appearance on behalf of the defence secretary.

The judge refused to accept the memo since the lead counsel did not appear personally.

He remarked that such conduct by a high-ranking public official was tantamount to “the denial of the existence of one of the pillars of the state, i.e. the judiciary” and this could not be ignored.

In the written verdict, he ordered the federal secretary’s removal and sought assistance from the attorney general with an observation that the case required the interpretation of the Constitu­tion as the functions of the armed forces are regulated under Article 245 of the Constitution.

ADSJ Ali, in the order, wrote that the said article outlined no role of the army other than defending the country against external aggression or threat of war or when it is called to help the civilian government.

He also fixed the next hearing for Nov 24. Now, a new judge will take up the case as ADSJ Ali has been directed to take charge as OSD “on or before Nov 20”.

Published in Dawn, November 19th, 2023

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