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Pakistan

Web Desk
December 16, 2019

Army chief's extension: SC issues detailed verdict

Pakistan

Web Desk
Mon, Dec 16, 2019

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court of Pakistan issued on Monday the detailed verdict regarding the extension in tenure of Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa.

Last month, the apex court had suspended the notification confirming the extension of General Bajwa for another three years after his term expires on November 29.

The verdict, penned by Justice Mansoor Ali Shah, states that SC bench "explored the scope of Article 243 of the Constitution, reviewed the Pakistan Army Act, 1952, the Pakistan Army Act Rules, 1954".

The court, as per the detailed verdict, "found that the Pakistan Army Act, 1952 falls deficient of the structural requirements for raising and maintaining an Army under clause (3) of Article 243 of the Constitution".

The verdict noted that "no tenure or age of retirement for the rank of General is provided under the law. As per the institutional practice a General retires on completion of a tenure of three years. Although an institutional practice cannot be a valid substitute of the law."

It further stated that in the light of the attorney general's assurances as well as the importance of the responsibilities of the army chief, it is appropriate that the serving COAS may continue for a period of six months.

In the same vein, the apex court warned that in the absence of legislation on the matter within six months, the institutional practice of retirement of a General on completion of the tenure of three years "shall stand enforced".

"There is no provision in the law for extending service of a General for another tenure; nor is there any consistent and continuous institutional practice of granting such extension," Justice Shah wrote, adding that the summaries for the reappointment, extension and fresh appointment of General Bajwa were "meaningless" in absence of the relevant law.

In the verdict, the top court urged the President to appoint a new army chief, saying that if there is no proper legislation then the army chief will be considered retired from November 29. 

On November 28, the top court, in its short order, allowed the federal government to grant a six-month extension to COAS General Qamar Javed Bajwa.

CJP Khosa’s additional note

Chief Justice of Pakistan Asif Saeed Khosa, made an additional note in the verdict, saying "in our peculiar historical context Chief of the Army Staff holds a powerful position in ways more than one.”

“Unbridled power or position, like unstructured discretion, is dangerous," added the note.

The chief justice continued "it has been a shocking revelation to us that the terms and conditions of service of Chief of the Army Staff, the tenure of his office, extension in the tenure of his office or his reappointment have remained unregulated by any law so far."

Justice Khosa, ended his note by saying that "the democratic maturity of our nation has reached a stage where this Court can proclaim that, as declared by Chief Justice Sir Edward Coke of England in the Commendam case in the year 1616 regarding the powers of King James I, “Howsoever high you may be; the law is above you”.