LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) Chief Justice Muhammad Ameer Bhatti on Friday allowed Ahmad Awais to continue work as the advocate general Punjab after suspending a notification issued by law department and restrained the provincial government from creating hurdles for him while discharging his responsibilities.
LHC Chief Justice Bhatti was hearing a petition filed by Ahmad Awais against a notification restraining him from working and appearing in court.
The CJ termed the notification as highly inappropriate and served notices to the chief secretary, inspector general of police (IG) and Punjab law secretary.
The court remarked that it was always with the advocate general when it came to the issue regarding sanctity of the AGP office. The court asked the additional advocate general Punjab as under what law he was appointed to the post of advocate general. The additional AGP said that it was an internal arrangement for which he had been given powers.
To a court’s query, he replied that he was notified by the law secretary.
Jawad Yaqub, representing the government as acting advocate general, pointed out that four orders were issued by the Law Department to remove Ahmed Awais but he did not relinquish the charge. Subsequently, the administration locked the office.
Awais Ahmed through a counsel Shafqat Chohan contended that under Article 140 of the Constitution, the office of the advocate general was a constitutional post, independent of the government of a province or its bureaucracy.
He argued that only the governor of Punjab had the power to remove the advocate general from office. This post is not subordinate to the chief secretary Punjab so neither the law department nor the government can remove him from the post nor appoint a new one.
“The governor of Punjab has not yet issued any order to remove Ahmed Awais, therefore the orders to stop him from working should be declared null and void.”
The judge queried who had given secretary law the authority to remove or appoint an advocate general. He added that Ahmad Awais was still the advocate general. He said that Ahmad Awais appeared on the directives of the court.
Additional AGP Yaqoob said that Ahmed Awais was still Advocate General Punjab but he was not keeping in view the interest of the government. Chief Justice remarked that the government can only direct that AGP will not appear in certain cases. The advocate general’s office cannot be damaged, nor can security be removed from his office, the chief justice remarked.
After hearing preliminary arguments, the court suspended the impugned notification and sought replies from the Chief Secretary and other government officials.
On May 16, the law department had restrained AGP Awais from appearing before courts on behalf of the government and assigned the responsibility of the office to Additional Advocate General Jawad Yaqoob.
In the impugned memo written to Awais, the law department’s section officer said that the principal law officer had been asked by the department through four letters not to appear in courts on behalf of the provincial government.
Courtesy Bol News