PESHAWAR: A court has given the provincial government another week to submit a proper response about the appointment of Caretaker Chief Minister Justice (retired) Dost Muhammad Khan after the former failed to do so on Thursday.
However, the lack of a serious response by government’s lawyers has annoyed the two-judge bench of the Peshawar High Court, comprising Justice Qalandar Ali Khan and Justice Muhammad Ayub, who issued strict orders to the government, directing them to submit a detailed, written response within a week.
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The two-judge bench had started hearing the challenge to Justice (retired) Dost’s appointment on Thursday when Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Advocate General Abdul Samad Khan told the court that he needed more time to prepare the case.
This request followed a similar request he had made in the last hearing of the case when he contended that he had just taken charge of his role.
The appointment of Justice (retd) Dost as K-P’s interim chief minister was challenged in the PHC by senior lawyer Syed Azizuddin Kakakhel, who had contended that his appointment was a violation of the provisions of Constitution since Article 62 and 63 of states that an elected or chosen person, who has served any statutory body shall be disqualified unless a period of two years has elapsed since the end of their tenure.
In this regard, it pointed out that the interim chief executive had retired on March 20, 2018, just over two months before he was appointed to his current role. Therefore, he does not fulfil the constitutional requirement.
The retired judge was appointed by Election Commission of Pakistan from the list of four names provided by a parliamentary committee of the previous government.
The petition had further argued that Justice (retired) Dost’s appointment was also against the National Judicial Policy 2009, which stipulates that a judge of the Supreme Court shall not accept any post lower than his status or dignity. In this regard, Kakakhel had argued that the post of the interim chief minister is decidedly lower than that of a justice of the Supreme Court.
He added the judicial policy’s virtue of independence of judiciary also restrict judges from accepting such positions (of the executive branch) and that he can not even take up the role of a governor of a province. The petitioner thus urged the PHC to declare Justice Dost’s appointment as null and void.
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“This is an important case,” Justice Qalandar Ali Khan remarked. “It is a matter of constitutional supremacy and judicial policy which should be taken seriously”.
He asked the AG how much time does he require to furnish a response.
The AG asked for a week’s time. The court granted the request but directed him to file a detailed, written response.
The court adjourned the case for a week.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 6th, 2018.