In a petition that challenged the Sindh prosecutor general’s power to transfer his subordinates, a Sindh High Court judgment has declared him ‘vested with the authority’.
“The Sindh Criminal Prosecution Service Act IX of 2010 vests the prosecutor general with the administration and control over the service, besides describing him as the ‘head of service’,” the court noted.
The eight-page judgment which dismissed the petition was announced on Friday by the Sindh High Court division bench of Justice Sajjad Ali Shah and Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar. Assistant District Public Prosecutors Shakil Ahmed Shaikh, Zairaf Hussain Khan and Raheem Baksh Khaskheli had filed a petition, challenging their March 5 transfer orders from Hyderabad to Umerkot.
The petitioners’ counsel, Noorul Haq Qureshi advocate, had contended that although the prosecutor general has administrative powers, he had not been entrusted with the power to transfer assistant, deputy and district public prosecutors. Citing Section 14 of Act IX, 2010, he held that, “the petitioners are civil servants in terms of Civil Servants Act 1973. Therefore, only the Sindh chief secretary is empowered to transfer and post them in the light of that act.”
The counsel mentioned a recent precedent in which the SHC gave a ruling last year against the transfer of assistant and deputy prosecutors. Advocate Qureshi prayed the court that the transfer orders be declared void ab initio (to be treated as invalid from the outset).
Meanwhile, the counsel representing the respondents - the Sindh government and the provincial law secretary - maintained that the administrative authority rests with the prosecutor general and he is also in charge of the prosecution service. “Scrutinising the provisions referred by the petitioner’s counsel, Section 14 of Act IX, 2010, will reveal [my position],” said Shahadat Awan, the Sindh prosecutor general.
To support his stance, he submitted an apex court verdict given in the Mehram Ali and Others vs. the federation of Pakistan case in 1998. Meanwhile, Additional Advocate General Allah Bachayo Soomro argued that the Government of Sindh acts as a ‘general superintendent’ but the authority of the service belongs to the prosecutor general.In its judgement, the division bench observed that, “the prosecutor general can safely be held as the sole custodian of the service with powers to effectuate administration.” The authority of transferring members or staff is completely vested in him, it added.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 4th, 2011.
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