Delay in hiring law officers affecting state cases

Consensus reached between coalition partners over share of appointments


Hasnaat Malik August 19, 2022
PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD:

The delay in the appointment of new law officers is adversely affecting the state cases in the superior courts.

The PML-N-led coalition government came into power in the month of April but the appointment of new law officers is being delayed for several reasons – especially the lack of consensus between major coalition partners on the share of these appointments.

Soon after coming into power, the law ministry had sent a list to the Prime Minister’s Office on the removal of existing law officers and new appointments.

However, the summary was returned to the ministry by asking Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar to include the nominees of the PPP.

Due to the delay in the appointments, the incumbent law officers, who are affiliated with the PTI, lost interest in pursuing government cases, a development that has badly affected the working of the attorney general for Pakistan’s (AGP) Office.

Read Worsening law & order situation echoes in K-P PA

An insider told The Express Tribune that the working of the AGP Office is disturbed in the Islamabad High Court because of the prevailing situation.

Interestingly, it is witnessed that a few law officers, who were associated with the PTI, were present in the courtroom to express solidarity with their party’s legal team in the prohibited funding case, which was taken up by an IHC larger bench on Thursday.

A senior official in the law ministry however told The Express Tribune that a consensus had been reached as around 120 new law officers would be appointed wherein over 40 lawyers were recommended by the PPP. Now the summary sent to President Arif Alvi for the removal of the existing law officers includes new appointments as well.

The official added that the new law officers would be notified after the approval of the president soon. He further said other than a few, all existing law officers would be de-notified.

A debate is also continuing as to whether or not the removal and appointment of above 120 officers would affect the upcoming Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) annual elections scheduled to take place in October.

It is not yet clear whether the new appointments are being made on the basis of competency or loyalty to their parties.

Read More Barrister Saif blames ‘anti-TTP groups’ for K-P law and order situation

The superior courts always want that competent law officers should be appointed for effectively pursuing state cases.

There are 12 posts of additional attorneys general, 45 deputy attorneys general and 103 assistant attorneys general. The AGP is the head of the team.

It has been learnt that incumbent AGP Ashtar Ausaf Ali has returned to Pakistan as he was abroad for medical treatment.  There are reports within the government that he might resign if he remained unwell to continue his office.

A senior PML-N lawyer said it was the AGP himself who would decide about his future.

The AGP is a very important constitutional post to take lead of litigation for the state before local as well as international legal forums.

Currently, the matter of the settlement in the Reko Diq case is also under way. Pakistan is facing above $6 billion penalty in this matter. However, the out-of-court settlement efforts have remained successful and both sides have agreed to resolve the matter amicably.

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