SC takes notice of delay in AGP appointment

Summons record regarding resignation of outgoing as well as appointment of new AGP on January 17

Hasnaat Malik January 11, 2023
A policeman walks past the Supreme Court building in Islamabad, Pakistan, on November 28, 2019. (AFP/File)


The Supreme Court on Wednesday took notice of the inordinate delay in the issuance of a notification regarding the appointment of Mansoor Usman Awan as the new Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP).

A division bench of the apex court led by Justice Qazi Faez Isa, while hearing a property matter, summoned the federal law secretary along with the records regarding the resignation of the outgoing as well as the appointment of the new AGP on January 17.

The bench wondered as to how the country is being run without the AGP.

During the hearing, Justice Isa inquired from Deputy Attorney General Shafqat Abbasi as who was hold the office the AGP. He replied that Ashtar Ausaf was the new AGP. However, the judge told him that the government had accepted his resignation, citing media reports.

On a query of the bench, Additional Attorney General Chaudhry Amir Rehman came to the rostrum and stated that he was not in the position to give a statement about the incumbent AGP.

Subsequently, the court summoned the records regarding the outgoing AGP's resignation and the appointment of his successor on January 17.

Earlier, the government had decided to appoint Mansoor Usman Awan as new the AGP. President Arif Alvi had also approved the summary regarding his appointment on December 24 last year but the notification is yet to be issued.

The Express Tribune has learnt on good authority that one section within the superior judiciary is uncomfortable with the nomination of Awan as the new AGP.

It is to be noted that Islamabad High Court Judge Babar Sattar and Awan remained partner in a legal firm. Awan also represented Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi when a larger bench decided the seniority of the Lahore High Court judges.

The AGP always plays the role of a bridge between the government and the superior judiciary. At present, Awan is representing Punjab Governor Balighur Rehman before the Lahore High Court.

Awan, a young lawyer from Lahore, came to prominence when he represented the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) during a presidential reference interpreting Article 63A of the Constitution that deals with defection. He on behalf of SCBA also filed petition against lifetime disqualification of lawmakers under Article 62 (1) (f) of constitution.

His appointment comes after his predecessor, Ashtar Ausaf Ali, resigned in October 2022, citing health reasons. Ali was retained by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to continue serving the office until his successor is found.

Former additional attorney general Tariq Mahmood Khokhar told The Express Tribune that intra-institutional polarity is the obvious reason for the delay. However, he said “there is also talk of personal pique and judicial-executive quid pro quo”.

The sources in the government revealed that some elements are interested in the appointment of Shahzad Elahi as the new AGP. However, the government is trying to redress the concerns of the judiciary related  to the nomination of Awan.

Awan belongs to the section of lawyers that does not support the strict seniority principle in the appointment of the Supreme Court judges.


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