NAB PG appointment: Apex court summons reply from federal govt

F.P Report

ISLAMABAD: Supreme Court has summoned secretary law to present the summary and Prime Minister’s advice to the President before the court in the appointment of Prosecutor General NAB case.

The bench, headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, has been hearing a suo-motu case on non-functioning tribunals and special courts across Pakistan. On January 11, the CJP had ordered that all vacant positions for judges be filled within a week’s time.

Additional Attorney General Rana Waqar told the court that the President of Pakistan had rejected the five names given by Chairman NAB.

Expressing surprise over the development, the SC bench noted that the president is bound to take the PM’s advice. According to Article 48, Section 1(a) of the Constitution, the president is bound to approve any documents sent by the prime minister or federal cabinet. Though the president can send files forwarded by the PM office back for reconsideration, he cannot reject them.

“How can the president reject the names recommended by the prime minister?” Justice Nisar asked.

He asked that what the legal procedure to appoint Prosecutor General was. Secretary Law told the bench that the President can appoint anyone as Prosecutor General after consultation with Chairman NAB.

He further informed the bench that in the past, appointments for the post had been made after nominations from law ministry, but Chariman NAB had sent the nominations this time.

Justice Ejaz ul Hassan inquired if the President had given the reasons for rejecting the advice. Additional Attorney General informed that two of the personnel nominated were above 65 years of age.

The matter seemed to have hit dead end.

Chief Justice retorted that he had used a big word. He asked what the ruling in the constitution for such a situation was and under which article the President had the power to reject PM’s advice. Rana Waqar replied that the President did not have the power to reject advice; he did, however, had the power to send the advice back for reconsideration.

Chief Justice of Pakistan inquired if the President was aware of his authorities.

The appointment of Prosecutor General NAB had already been deferred many times before. Additional Prosecutor NAB said that the government had already assured SC of the appointment within one week.

The position of the NAB prosecutor general (PG) fell vacant on November 23, 2017, after former PG Waqar Qadeer Dar left office after completing his tenure.

In November, NAB had sent the law ministry the names of Nasir Saeed Sheikh, Fasihul Mulk, Syed Asghar Haider, Mudassar Khalid Abbasi and Shah Khawar as potential candidates for the position of PG. Sheikh, Mulk, Haider and Abbasi are retired judges, while Khawar is a former attorney general.

However, after receiving no response from the ministry, NAB in December 2017 had appointed Khawar as a special prosecutor till a full-time PG was appointed.