The PML-N-led coalition government on Friday de-notified 118 law officers who were appointed during the previous regime. At the same time, the law ministry has also approved 128 law officers as additional, deputy and assistant attorney generals at various stations — a move that lingered for months and adversely affected state cases in the superior courts.
However, the final has been also been noted for its minuscule representation of women in the superior judiciary as out of 128, only nine women lawyers have been appointed.
Surprisingly, the PMLN-led government has also sacked senior law officers who were working in the Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) office since 2013 and had been appointed by the previous PML-N regime. But since they were not affiliated with the party, the subsequent AGPs who occupied the office during the PTI government did not have to remove them.
Meanwhile, The Express Tribune learnt that PPP — a major constituent party of the ruling coalition — provided a list of 48 lawyers, out of whom 32 have been notified on different posts.
However, PPP senior lawyer Latif Khosa, who is also President People's Lawyers Forum (PLF), has voiced serious concerns over the government's decision to ignore some of the names recommended by him, including his son Balakh Shair Khosa, who was dropped from the final list.
Balakh Shair Khosa's name was replaced with another lawyer who was recommended by a lawyer also belonging to the PPP.
On the other hand, sources in the government revealed that around 14 lawyers, who were recommended by Latif Khosa, were notified. The list, they added, was finalised while keeping in view the upcoming Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) annual elections.
The names of PPP lawyers, who were associated with Professional Lawyers Group, have been dropped, the sources shared.
It is noteworthy that the incumbent law minister, Azam Nazeer Tarar, is an active member of the Independent Lawyers Group, which is also known as the Asma Group. The group is said to have played a significant role in changing the regime, while the government still believes that the superior judiciary has the ear of the SCBA.
Senior lawyers however believe that the appointment and removal of law officers will badly affect the Independent Lawyers Group. Those who were voting Independent Group will endorse candidates of the Professional Lawyers Group in SCBA elections after their removal.
Interestingly, lawyers considered closer to active members of the Independent Lawyers Group are also inducted into the AGP office. Furthermore, lawyers who were recommended by Attorney General for Pakistan Ashtar Ausaf Ali were not okayed.
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 the lead in 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 an 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.