ISLAMABAD: After taking away official posts from former law minister Dr Babar Awan, the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party on Tuesday replaced him with Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan as the counsel in the presidential reference that asked the Supreme Court to re-visit the trial of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.
Interestingly, the reason given for Awan’s replacement is the suspension of his lawyers’ licence by the Supreme Court in a contempt case.
The decision was taken in light of a summary of the ministry of law and justice that said: “The Supreme Court, in Reference No 1 of 2011 had asked the attorney general for Pakistan, vide para six of the order dated 17-01-2012, to inform the president of Pakistan that in view of the order dated 05-01-2012 and today’s order, the licence of Mr Babar Awan, has temporarily been suspended, therefore it would be appropriate if another counsel is appointed to address arguments in the reference which is one of the most important cases in the history of this court.”
Consequently, the law and justice ministry suggested the prime minister advise the president to appoint another counsel, a statement from the Presidency added, with acting President Nayyar Hussain Bokhari as the signatory.
The court had put off the hearing of the presidential reference after the retirement of some judges in June last year. The hearing resumed in December but after the suspension of Awan’s licence as an advocate, the case was adjourned indefinitely.
Awan, who had resigned as minister to appear before the apex court as a counsel in the presidential reference, has recently been charged with contempt of court for ridiculing the superior judiciary.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 23rd, 2012.