The Supreme Court on Monday threw out a government plea to put off the hearing of a petition seeking review of its verdict annulling a graft amnesty – commonly known as NRO – that benefited President Asif Ali Zardari among others.
“The government should stop playing jokes with the courts,” remarked Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry at one point during the hearing.
The federation’s legal wizards took the plea that since the government’s attorney Kamal Azfar had been made adviser to the prime minister, the government needed more time to find his replacement.
The three-member bench, headed by Justice Chaudhry, while rejecting the government’s plea, observed that the administration did not appear to be serious about the issue.
Attorney General (AG) Maulvi Anwarul Haq and Advocate on Record Raja Abdul Ghafur produced the notification of Kamal Azfar’s appointment as adviser to the PM.
“If the notification can be issued on a holiday when Kamal Azfar was out of the country, then it can be withdrawn on a working day as well,” Justice Ramday observed.
The attorney general apprised the court that the federation sought more time to engage another lawyer to represent it in the review case as Kamal Azfar was no more available following his new appointment.
Salman Raja, counsel for the petitioner Dr Mubashir Hassan, while opposing the government’s plea, said that by dithering over the issue the government was showing its disinterest in implementing the court’s orders.
The chief justice remarked: “The notification of Kamal Azfar was issued on Sunday. Issuance of notification on Sunday indicates ill intent of the government. It does not behove the government to use such delaying tactics. What warranted such haste that the office was opened on Sunday and the notification issued. Courts are being let down which is not a good thing. If the government is serious, it can withdraw the notification of Kamal Azfar.”
“Lame excuses were made earlier too,” Justice Ramday interjected. “Everything is in view of the common man. Nothing happens in two days. The government will not stop if notification of two days is retracted,” he remarked. The chief justice while addressing the attorney general, said: “Earlier Masood Chishti had filed a review petition and then he was appointed the law secretary. Kamal Azfar, who was to present his review case on behalf of the government, has been appointed an adviser. The government wanted to seek more time on the pretext of changing the counsel. It is not known if the consent of Kamal Azfar was taken regarding the notification. The government should give up cutting jokes with courts. Kamal Azfar remained on leave from August 22 to October 10.”
First the government sought to fix the NRO implementation case with NRO review case before the 17-member larger bench and is now creating hurdles in the NRO review case hearing.
The chief justice directed the federation to retract Azfar’s notification as adviser to the PM and let him appear on October 13 before the 17-member larger SC bench, which is to simultaneously start hearing the NRO review appeal and the NRO implementation suo motu case.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 12th, 2010.
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