The Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) executive committee has approached the Supreme Court, seeking removal of Federal Law Minister Dr Farogh Naseem from the lawyers’ body in view of his appointment as a federal minister.
The PBC is an apex body of lawyers consisting of 23 members, who are elected from all provincial bar councils as well as the Islamabad Bar Council for five years. Currently, 12 members are from Asma Jahangir Lawyers Group and 11 from the Hamid Khan Lawyers Group. Naseem belongs to the latter.
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Dr Naseem was elected as a PBC member from Sindh two years ago. Later, he was elected as the PBC vice chairman for one year. Earlier, Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP), who is also the PBC chairman, rejected the members’ plea seeking his removal.
Now the SC has been asked to pass an appropriate order on the subject so that the legal question is settled. The PBC members through Vice Chairman Kamran Murtaza have filed a constitutional petition under Article 184(3) of the Constitution and nominated Naseem and the AGP as respondents.
According to the petition, the council wrote a note to Naseem on November 9, 2018 on the instruction of the PBC vice chairman to consider whether in view of the Bar Council Act and Rules provisions that he ceased to be a PBC member.
It said respondent no 2 – the AGP –in a letter held that Faroogh Naseem cannot be deprived of his membership of the council. The PBC said it has no other option but to invoke the extraordinary jurisdiction of the apex court under Article 184(3) of the Constitution as this is matter of public importance.
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The PBC said Dr Faroogh Naseem cannot stay as a member of the council in light of law laid down by the SC in the cases Federation vs Dr Mubashir Hassan and Zafar Mehmood Mughal vs Sajjad Akbar Abbasi.
"Faroogh Naseem ceases to be member of the PBC after becoming a federal minister under Section 11 C of the Legal Practitioners and Bar Council Act, 1973.
“[He] should have applied to the PBC to have his certificate as an advocate be suspended in terms of Rule 108-O of the Pakistan Legal Practitioners Act and the Bar Councils Rules 1976 after becoming the federal minister. He cannot be an advocate in terms and conditions of Service Rules.”
It said it would be a conflict of interest for an independent and self-governing body like the PBC, which is meant to be unassociated from the government, to have a federal minister as its member.
“The PBC may not have a member who cannot appear before any court, including the Supreme Court as an advocate due to his portfolio of federal minister,” it said.
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