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AG suspends PBC`s show-cause notice against law minister

By Nasir Iqbal 2019-06-28
ISLAMABAD: Attorney General Anwar Mansoor Khan has suspended a show-cause notice issued against Law MinisterDrFaroghNaseemandrestrained the Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) the supervisory body of the legal fraternity from considering the matter in its next meeting on Sunday.

The attorney general exercised his authority under Rule 84(a) of the Pakistan Legal Practitioners and Bar Councils Rules 1976, read with Section 12(8) of the Pakistan Legal Practitioners and Bar Councils Act 1973. By virtue of his office, he acts as the chairman of the PBC.

Mr Khan took the decision on a petition of June 26, instituted by the law minister himself in which he assailed the June 12 majority resolution of the PBC that called for Dr Naseem`s resignation for his alleged role in the filing of references against two superior court judges.

In his five-page order, the attorney general also postponed further hearing on Dr Naseem`s petition till July 3 at 3pm but issued notices to PBC Secretary Muhammad Arshad and members of the council.

Mr Khan recalled that in his petition the minister had expressed apprehension that the PBC in its next meeting on June 30 might pass a resolution about the showcause notice issued against him.

In his order, the attorney general observed that the June 26 application by the minister and the May 15 judgement of the Supreme Court had effectively decided the issue; hence the PBC resolution and show-cause notice were mala fide and without jurisdiction.

Referring to the allegation against the minister with regard to the Supreme Judicial Council, Mr Khan said that Dr Naseem had acted as per the law andthe Constitution.

Explaining his authority, the attorney general stated that under Section 12(8) of the 1973 Act, both the chairman and the vice chairman had the required powers and functions. Rule 84(a) of the 1976 rules also provides that the chairman of the bar council will be responsible for ensuring due compliance with the provisions of the act and the rules.

The attorney general`s decision drew a swift reaction from the PBC`s vice chairman, Syed Amjad Shah, who said his of fice did not make the attorney general the council`s appellate authority. Therefore, Mr Khan had no authority to suspend the PBC order.

In a statement, the PBC`s vice chairman also described Mr Khan`s decision as a `glaring example of misuse of authority as he interfered in the affairs of an institution of which he holds an ex-of ficio of fice of chairman`.

`Similarly, it has also been proved that the law minister has tried to play with the law in such an erroneous manner which is highly condemnable,` said Mr Shah.

In his petition, the minister had recalled that PBC in its meeting of June 12 had required to get his licence suspended under Rule 108-O of the Pakistan Legal Practitioners and Bar Council Rules, 1976.

Since the licence has not been suspended, therefore by the operation of the law the licence stood suspended and therefore he ceased to be a member of the council, the PBC resolution had stated.

The council had also decided that in view of the second proviso of Rule 108-O, the minister had committed a professional misconduct by failing to get his licence to practice suspended within one month.

Earlier, through a Sept 26, 2018 notification the attorney general had held that having taken oath as the federal law minister, Dr Naseem did not cease to be a member of the council.

Against this decision, the PBC moved the Supreme Court, which rejected the plea on May 15, with an observation that it was unable to determine how the court could entertain the petition when it does not involve the question of breach of any fundamental rights under Article 184(3) of the Constitution.