ISLAMABAD: The federal government has decided to challenge a recent Supreme Court ruling barring its departments from hiring the services of private attorneys.
A senior government official said that the federal government’s law department expressed reservations over the recent judgment, authored by Justice Qazi Faez Isa. The judgment criticised the government for hiring private advocates without any justification and stated that this “practice … must now stop”.
Waste of money: Top court objects to hiring of private attorneys
“Can the court tell any litigant which lawyer to choose and which it will not find acceptable?” asked the official.
He said that no notice was issued to the attorney-general or advocates-general before Articles 100 and 140 were interpreted, adding that legally, no court could proceed to raise any substantial question without giving them notice.
“The decision was rendered without any argument. The matter … was not whether or not the government can engage private counsel. Constitutional rights and issues cannot be raised or decided in such a transient manner … They are argued specifically,” the senior official said, on condition of anonymity.
Meanwhile, incumbent Attorney-General Ashtar Ausaf Ali sought a year-end progress report from all law officers across Pakistan in a bid to revamp AG offices all over the country.
The AGP is also planning to induct younger law officers who will be able to focus on government work, instead of acting as ‘part-time’ lawyers for the state.
Delineating the revamping plan, the law officer said that office staff would be trained in batches in the Judicial Academy, adding that the Punjab Information Technology Board would help the attorney-general’s office in e-filing skills.
Currently, a total of 146 federal law officers are working across the country.
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Renowned lawyer Faisal Siddiqui, who worked as a consultant of former AGP Munir A Malik, believed that appointment of law officers should be made on merit instead of political loyalty. Similarly, he said, their jobs should be secure.
Azhar Sadique, a lawyer, welcomed Justice Isa’s judgment and urged the federal and provincial governments to comply with the ruling. He maintained that the trend of wasting large amounts of public money should stop.
Senior counsel, Makhdoom Ali Khan, has already recused himself from representing the Ministry of Interior in a suo motu case relating to the Quetta blast that occurred in August last year after the judgment.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 11th, 2017.
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