–Govt disowns top lawyer’s statement, says remarks were ‘unauthorised’, ‘totally uncalled for’
ISLAMABAD: Attorney General of Pakistan (AGP) Anwar Mansoor Khan submitted his resignation to President Arif Alvi on Thursday, a day after the Supreme Court (SC) ordered him to tender an apology for making a controversial statement about the apex court bench in the Justice Qazi Faez Isa case.
In his resignation letter, the top lawyer said: “I note with profound regret that the Pakistan Bar Council, of which I am the Chairman, has demanded through its press release dated 19th of February 2020 that I resign forthwith from the Office of the Attorney General of Pakistan.
“Being a life member of Karachi Bar Association, Sindh Bar Association and the Supreme Court Bar Association, and having previously served as the Advocate General Sindh, the Attorney General for Pakistan and a judge of the High Court of Sindh, I stand with my brothers and colleagues at the Bar and I wish to reaffirm my faith in the highest principles of integrity and professional excellence that the Pakistan Bar Council has always stood for.”
In the conclusion of his letter, Khan said: “Accordingly I hereby resign from the position of the Attorney General for Pakistan and request to accept it with immediate effect.”
The resignation came following an order by Justice Umar Ata Bandial of the Supreme Court, directing AG Khan to tender an unconditional apology over his now expunged statement.
“As [a] certain statement was made by the AG about the bench yesterday, it would be appreciated if the material on the basis of which the statement was made is placed on record before the bench,” a visibly disturbed Justice Bandial said while dictating the order at the end of Wednesday’s hearing.
Later on, in a statement, PBC vice president had asked the attorney general to submit an unconditional written apology along with his resignation for his “unbecoming conduct”. The statement added that the PBC would not tolerate any government-sponsored attempt to undermine the independence of the judiciary and the process of dispensation of justice.
“Being most disturbed by the unprecedented behavior of the AG towards the apex court,” the PBC stated, adding that it would file contempt of court petition against the attorney general as well as the law minister. Later, contempt of court petition was also drafted but could not be filed in time.
The contempt proceedings must be initiated against Anwar Mansoor Khan, Law Minister Farogh Nasim and
any other person who may have instructed the Attorney General to make such statement on behalf of the Federation and punish them in accordance with the provisions of the constitution, said the petition.
The contempt petition reads: “Mr. Anwar Mansoor Khan’s statement that any of the petitioners had attacked
some Judges – “attack on a few judges” – is contrary to the record. The only application filed on behalf of any of the petitioners relating to composition of bench had sought, merely, that the petition “be fixed before the full-court comprising of all the eligible judges of this Court”. To categorise this as an attack is false and the only object to make this false statement appears to sow dissension in this Honourable Court. Mr. Anwar Mansoor Khan then audaciously suggested that after the recusal of two Hon’ble Judges this larger Bench is a “convenient court”.”
“That these gentlemen are in the habit of castigating judges when they deliver judgments which do not meet with their approval. Mr. Justice Waqar Seth, Chief Justice of Peshawar High Court, a distinguished member of the Supreme Judicial Council, was called “mentally unfit and incompetent” in various press conferences and statements made by various persons belonging to the Federal Government including, inter alia, Mr. Farogh Naseem, Mr. Anwar Mansoor Khan, Ms. Firdous Ashiq Awan and Mr. Shehzad Akbar, it went on to read.
On August 31, 2018, Khan was appointed attorney general for the second time. He earlier served in the position during the tenure of the PPP government. He resigned from the post on April 2, 2010, after reportedly developing differences with the then law minister, Babar Awan.
GOVT DISOWNS KHAN’S REMARKS:
Meanwhile, a response submitted on behalf of the federal government in the Supreme Court said the “statement” made by Khan on February 18 was “unauthorised, without instructions and knowledge of the federal government and the answering respondents, and totally uncalled for”.
“It is pointed out that the federal government of Pakistan and the answering respondents hold the superior judiciary for Pakistan in the highest respect and esteem.
“Accordingly, the federal government and the answering respondents dissociate themselves from the statement of the learned attorney general,” the response submitted by Law and Justice Division Secretary Muhammad Khashih-ur-Rehman read.
“The federal government and the answering respondents verily believe in the rule of law, constitutionalism and the independence of the judiciary,” it concluded.
It has been learnt that the government was considering replacing the AGP. According to reports, Khalid Javed Khan was being considered for the post of the AGP. The government had earlier offered the top post to renowned lawyer Makhdoom Ali Khan, who reportedly turned down the offer.