Thursday, July 28, 2011
PM's Written Reply Sought By Chief Justice
The Supreme Court has given one day notice to the government to restore Sohail Ahmed as establishment secretary, asking the prime minister to take back the notification making him an OSD.
In a display of never-ending patience with a rebellious government that has repeatedly flouted court orders and have chosen a path of confrontation, the Supreme Court gave it another chance for compliance.
While heading a six-member SC bench hearing Haj corruption case, Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry took notice of government’s apparent punishment to the former establishment division secretary who was made an officer on special duty (OSD) on Tuesday, the same day he issued a notification restoring FIA officer Hussain Asghar in compliance with the court orders. The Haj scam has brought a bad name to the country and its investigation by Hussain Asghar’s team revealed that senior government officials and other influential persons pocketed huge amounts through corruption in Haj arrangements in 2010. After the transfer of Hussain to the Gilgit Baltistan, the investigations in the scam had come to a stand still.
During the course of proceeding, the chief justice observed the secretary was made an OSD for upholding court orders, adding that the prime minister acted in haste. He directed Attorney General Pakistan (AGP) Maulvi Anwar to make sure that Sohail Ahmed is reinstated. The CJP said, “Don’t try to test our nerve” as he ordered the AGP to personally meet the prime minister along with the certified copies of the court orders, explain him the intrinsic nature of law along with the court observations and submit his reaction in writing today (Thursday).
“There is no doubt that transfers and postings is the domain of the executive authority (prime minister), but it should be used judiciously… The manner in which Mr Sohail has been penalised persuade us to have strong reasons to believe that it was an act designed to frustrate the orders of this court. If any authority makes a departure from any of its provisions, it is likely to lead to chaos in the country which may lead to serious consequences,” the chief justice remarked.
The court observed that it is not just Mr Sohail who has suffered for obeying the lawful orders of the court and if such acts continue, it would send a message to the administration officials that if they comply with SC orders, they will face punishment. This would discourage upright and honest officers. “Therefore, under these circumstances, this court cannot leave such officers at the mercy of the executive to deal with them in a manner they like,” the court added.
The court observed that once a judicial order is passed, it has binding effect on the executive as well as judicial functionaries in light of articles 5 and 190 of the constitution. The CJP said that Sohail Ahmed cannot be penalised on the ground that he issued the notification in violation of the (office) rules.
When the hearing resumed after the break, the AGP informed the court that he could not speak with the prime minister because he was busy in a cabinet meeting, and presented the notification making Sohail Ahmed an OSD.
Earlier, FIA Director General Tehseen Anwar appeared before the court and informed that Hussain Asghar, who had been transferred and posted as Gilgit-Baltistan IGP before his reposting to the FIA on court orders, had not yet reported at the FIA Headquarters. The court admonished DG FIA for his leaving for Karachi without informing the court.
Shaukat Siddiqui, President of LHCBA Rawalpindi Division, said that the government has repeatedly defied court orders, adding that all the lawyers are with the apex court in the cause of curbing corruption. He said if the court orders are not complied by the government, they would come on the roads. The hearing was adjourned till Thursday