The ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) government has decided to appoint judges who had taken oath under the controversial Provisional Constitution Order (PCO) to key slots in different ministries and departments.
‘PCO judges’ is the term popularly used for judges who took oath under the PCO promulgated on November 3, 2007 by former president General (retd) Pervez Musharraf, and who were elevated to the posts on the recommendations of Justice (retd) Abdul Hameed Dogar, who had replaced Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry. Their appointment was subsequently declared unconstitutional in the Supreme Court’s (SC) judgment of July 31, 2009.
About 104 judges were ousted, of whom 45 belonged to Punjab. The incumbent government has assigned the posts of the attorney general, law secretary and prosecutor general of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to the judges who had taken oath under the PCO, despite a restraining order issued by a seven-judge bench of the SC on November 3, 2007, moments after Musharraf imposed the emergency rule.
However, some of the judges who were ousted had not taken oath under the PCO. Instead, they had done so under the Constitution, after the order was abolished. One of those was Maluvi Anwarul Haq, who served as attorney general from April 2010 to April 2012, and later appointed by the government as an adviser to the president.
His successor, Irfan Qadir was first appointed as the prosecutor general of NAB by President Zardari. The SC found this illegal because Qadir was the prosecutor general during Musharraf’s era for three years and was ousted on its order. He was swiftly appointed as the secretary of the law ministry. Former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani later appointed him as the attorney general of Pakistan during his trial in the infamous contempt case.
Known for his hard stance, Qadir has often irked the SC by not lending legal assistance in many cases, most notably the contempt case. The apex court has expressed its displeasure over this conduct.
Yasmin Abbasi, the incumbent secretary of the law ministry and NAB Prosecutor General Karim Khan Agha were also among the ousted judges.
Recently, the government also appointed Abdul Shakoor Paracha, who served as a Lahore High Court (LHC) and Islamabad High Court (IHC) judge, as its counsel in the pending Contempt of Court Act 2012 hearing in the SC. Similarly, it chose Munir Paracha, who was also a judge of the IHC, as its counsel in the case regarding the Balochistan law and order situation.
Ramzan Chaudhry, who is the chief legal adviser of Islamabad’s Capital Development Authority, was also an IHC judge, and Shafqat Abbasi, an ex-PPP MPA, who is the chairman of the Pakistan Press Council, was elevated as a judge of the LHC after the imposition of the emergency rule under Musharraf.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 29th, 2012.
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