Khalid Hussain –
Top court on Tuesday suspended operation of the federal government notification for extension in service to the incumbent Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa.
A three-member bench led by Chief Justice Sardar Asif Saeed Khan Khosa, comprising Justice Mazhar Alam and Justice Mansoor Ali Shah took the decision over a constitutional petition challenging General Bajwa’s extension on today. General Qamar is set to retire on November 29 upon completion of his three-year term. General Bajwa’s reappointment notified on August 19 extended his tenure by three years citing “regional security environment.”
Advocate Supreme Court Riaz Hanif Rahi filed the plea on behalf of Jurist Foundation urging the court to declare the extension illegal to which the top court has issued notices to parties of the case for November 27 including General Bajwa while observing “The issues involved warrant a detailed review”.
General Bajwa is set to retire on November 29 upon completion of his three-year term. General Bajwa’s reappointment notified on August 19 extended his tenure by three years citing “regional security environment.”
“If the said regional security threat is taken as justification for extension/reappointment then every person retiring from the armed forces will seek reappointment”, the Chief Justice Sardar Asif Saeed Khan Khosa observed .
Earlier he said, “If the regional security threat is real, then it is the gallant armed forces as a body that will respond to it and the role of an individual can only be minimal.”
Lawyers welcomed the top court order warmly. Leading legal fraternity leader Hamid Khan noted while talking to TLTP, “it is a collective victory for the lawyers as well as the media that the supreme court has been strengthened to issue such courageous judgments”.
The federal government had said that “the notification for the reappointment of General Qamar Javed Bajwa as COAS for another tenure had already been issued on August 19, 2019.”
Attorney General for Pakistan Anwar Mansoor Khan had relied on Rule 25 of the Army Regulation that authorizes the federal government to suspend retirement or reappointment of army officers. Mansoor held Rule 25 bestows jurisdiction upon the federal government to extend the tenure of the COAS.
However, the Chief Justice disagreed with his arguments in his orders noting “It is like putting the cart before the horse”. He earlier stressed, “Rule 25 can be invoked only after the said officer has already retired”.
The order is based upon the court’s appreciation that the process leading to the notification followed by the federal government was “flawed”. First the cabinet approval was not in place and then it was secured, a majority of the cabinet did not agree with the extension for the summary moved reported only 11 out of the 25 cabinet members agreed to issue the notification.
Hearing of the matter was adjourned till November 27.
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