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November 28, 2019

Can Farogh represent Gen Bajwa in his tenure extension case?

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November 28, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Can former law minister Farogh Naseem represent Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa before the Supreme Court. The former law minister claims his practice licence was restored by the Attorney General (AG) however, Pakistan Bar Council’s vice president says the AG’s decision was declared null and void by the bar council and his licence is still under suspension.

Senior legal and constitutional experts including Hamid Khan, former Attorney General Irfan Qadir believe that AG has no power to restore the practice licence of a lawyer. The enrollment committee of bar council takes the decision whom to enroll or expel. The Vice Chairman Pakistan Bar Council, Syed Amjad Shah, while talking to The News informed that the Attorney General had restored the licence of Dr Farogh Naseem in June 2019. However, the PBC in its meeting held in Quetta declared the AG’s decision null and void.

The minutes of that meeting are a public record, which can be obtained from the PBC office to verify whether his licence is restored or still suspended. “Dr Farogh Naseem is not eligible for representing General Qamar Javed Bajwa in his tenure extension case before the Supreme Court of Pakistan. If he appeared before the court, he will violate Article 58 (2) Legal Practitioners and Bar Councils Act, 1973”, said Amjad Shah. Article 58 (2) says, “Any advocate who practices the profession of law, or acts or appears as agent for any other person, while he is suspended from practice, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine, or with both”.

Shah believes the court will not allow him to present someone’s case before the Supreme Court especially after knowing the fact that his licence has been cancelled. The enrollment committee of the bar council takes the decision of enrolling or expelling of lawyers. The Attorney General cannot take any decision single handedly about restoration of licence of any member of the bar. “The former law minister had submitted an application for restoration of his licence earlier this year. Upon his application, the AG took the decision and restored his licence without taking the bar council into confidence. Resultantly, the bar council declared AG’s decision null and void. Now when Dr Farogh Naseem has resigned from the Ministry, he should submit the application for restoration of his licence. The enrollment committee of bar council will then decide whether to restore his licence or not”, said Amjad Shah.

The Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa had also pointed out during Wednesday's hearing on extension of Gen Bajwa’s tenure, that the court doesn’t want to indulge in the side issues (practice licence of Dr Farogh Naseem). The question here arises if the apex court accepts the plea of Pakistan Bar Council regarding suspension of Farogh Naseem’s licence, who will represent the Chief of Army Staff before the Supreme Court of Pakistan. The senior legal experts say that the government must have a backup plan for this.

Senior legal expert Hamid Khan while talking to Geo News’ Capital Talk programme said the Attorney General can only head the proceedings of the bar council. He has no powers to restore any lawyer’s licence. The bar council’s committees decide about the restoration of practice license, he said.

Similarly, former attorney general Irfan Qadir also expressed similar views in the Capital Talk that it is the relevant committees of the bar council which decide about the restoration of the practice license and not the attorney general.