LAHORE: The Punjab government on Sunday appointed Hanif Khatana as the new advocate general.
Khatana has previously served as the additional advocate general. He has 43 years of experience in the legal profession and has served as president of the Lahore High Court Bar Association.
Talking to reporters on Sunday, Khatana said government functionaries should not consider themselves above the law. He said they were bound to obey court orders.
He said after the passage of the 18th Amendment, powers had not been transferred to the province entirely.
He said he would play his role in dealing with the issue by helping introduce new legislation.
“Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif is committed to bringing improvement in every sphere of life in the province,” he said.
Referring to suo motu powers of superior courts, he said high courts could not take suo motu notices after a judgment of the Supreme Court (SC). “However, the SC’s decisions in all suo motu cases must be implemented in letter and spirit,” he said.
He said the vacant posts at the advocate general’s office would be filled with professional lawyers to assist courts.
Khatana had been working as acting advocate general since July 4, when Mustafa Ramday, son of former SC judge Khalilur Rehman Ramday, resigned from the post.
Ramday was appointed to the post in July 2013.
As its ex-officio chairman, Ramday had replaced nine members of the Punjab Bar Council.
The denotified members had challenged his appointment before the Lahore High Court (LHC).
A full bench of the LHC had directed the Punjab government on July 2 to appoint a permanent advocate general within 15 days.
There is no fixed tenure for the advocate general. He holds the office at the pleasure of the governor. The AG is the principal law officer of the provincial government. The provincial government relies on his advice in all legal matters.
The governor appoints the AG on the advice of the chief minister. Such advice is binding under Article 105 of the Constitution.
A person who is qualified to be appointed as a judge of the high court is qualified for appointment as AG. However, the qualification requirement may not always be interpreted strictly.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 21st, 2014.