Top court resumes hearing on COAS Bajwa’s tenure extension

Top court resumes hearing on COAS Bajwa’s tenure extension

Islamabad (Staff Report/Agencies): The Supreme Court on Wednesday resumed the hearing of the petition challenging the extension in General Qamar Javed Bajwa as army chief for next three years.

A three-member bench of the top court headed by Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa and comprising Justice Mazhar Alam Khan and Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah is hearing the case.

Farogh Naseem, who resigned as Ministry of Law on Tuesday, is representing the army chief before the court.

During Wednesday’s hearing, CJP Khosa said that media had misunderstood yesterday's proceedings and clarified that the court had not taken suo motu notice. "We are continuing your petition," the top judge told the petitioner who was in court today.

The court asked Attorney General Anwar Mansoor Khan if the government had accepted the points raised by the court yesterday. To this, the attorney general replied that they have not accepted the mistake.

The CJP remarked they will hear everyone as it is an important issue, adding that earlier this question was never raised and now that it has been brought forward, all the legal aspects of will be reviewed.

Justice Mansoor Ali Shah, referring to the point raised on Tuesday that only 11 cabinet members had earlier approved the extension, said: “Answers had not been submitted in the time fixed for cabinet members.”

“According to Rule 19, silence means ‘yes’,” the AG said as he submitted a new set of documents in court.

“According to Rule 19, [silence] is considered ‘yes’ only if there is a fixed time [to answer],” replied the chief justice.

According to Rule 19, when a case is circulated to the cabinet for recording opinion, the cabinet secretary shall specify the time by which opinions should be communicated to him. If a minister does not communicate his opinion by that time, it shall be assumed that he accepts the recommendations contained in the summary.

Justice Shah also observed that Article 243 of the Constitution refers to the appointment of an officer and asked if the article also mentions the “period of appointment as well”.

“As per Article 243, the president of the state is the supreme commander of the Pakistan Army. As per the same article, the heads of the armed branches are appointed on the advice of the president and the prime minister,” said the AG.

“Can a retired general also be deputed as the army chief? Justice Shah further asked.

Observing that the matter of an army chief’s tenure is extremely important and a few generals have granted themselves extension in the past, the chief justice said: “We will carefully look at this issue so that this does not happen in the future.”

“This is an extremely important issue and the Constitution is silent on it,” added Justice Khosa.

The attorney general then presented a new summary for an extension in the army chief’s tenure.