ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Thursday reserved the verdict in COAS General Qamar Javed Bajwa extension case, which would be announced later today.
A three-member bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa and comprising Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel and Justice Mansoor Ali Shah heard a petition challenging the extension of COAS General Bajwa.
The bench directed the government to draft the new notification in the light of following instructions:
not mention the Supreme Court
exclude the mention of a three-year tenure of extension
not include details regarding the army chief’s salaries and incentives
Furthermore, the apex court has sought an undertaking from the government that it would legislate on the matter within six months.
At the outset of hearing on Thursday, the chief justice asked the Attorney General Anwar Mansoor Khan to present the notifications regarding the extension in the tenure of former army chief General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani and retirement of General Raheel Sharif.
“We were told yesterday that generals never retire,” remarked CJP Khosa.
The attorney general informed the court that General Qamar Bajwa has been reappointed under Article 243, to which the CJP remarked that you have to convince us this is legal.
After the arguments from the AG and Farogh Naseem, the bench stated that a 10-member full court will announce the short order in the afternoon while the detailed verdict would be issued in the evening.
In the meantime, the court granted General Bajwa permission to continue working, conditionally. It further instructed the government to prepare a fresh notification, which does not list the tenure of the extension and to submit it in the court at 1 p.m.
It also asked for a written statement from the government that “legislation pertaining to the extension will be prepared within six months,” the CJP added.
You are giving the incumbent chief a three-year extension what if a more capable military officer is on service, would you grant him thirty-year extension? remarked the CJP.
The CJP observed that propaganda was launched against the judges as we took up the matter. “It was said that the three judges are CIA agents and are working on Indian agenda.”
On this, the AGP said that the matter was discussed in India. Justice Khosa observed that this is not good that a constitutional office is being made controversial.
Army help sought
The SC on Wednesday said there were three points which the court will consider on the issue of extension to the tenure of the army chief: the law, procedure involved, and grounds for granting an extension.
The federal government, aided by the military’s legal wing, prepared a new summary yesterday removing all the legal lacunae pointed out by the apex court earlier in the day.
The whole work was done for the first time in the light of assistance provided by the Judge Advocate General (JAG) Branch of the GHQ.
Well-placed sources told the paper that input of the JAG Branch was sought by the relevant ministry which had failed in producing documents required for the extension correctly and in the light of the observations of the SC that has pointed out serious errors in the drafts and notifications.
The sources pointed out that the whole process for fresh notification was completed by mid-night between Wednesday and Thursday. The same will be placed before the Supreme Court today.
The summary includes extension in service instead of appointment. The federal cabinet in accordance with the relevant rules approved the summary late on Wednesday evening through circulation process and subsequently submitted to the president who had issued the requisite notification.
The meeting of the stalwarts of the government and the relevant ministry was chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan where all developments were discussed thoroughly and the meeting was also attended by the COAS on the invitation of the premier.
The Attorney General, Anwar Mansoor Khan, former law minister Barrister Dr Farogh Naseem, federal law secretary and other senior officials were also in attendance.
The meeting expressed its displeasure over the differences between summary and notification for extension submitted earlier in the day before the Supreme Court, which caused the displeasure of the bench. The sources said that while the meeting took stock of the situation, made up its mind for both the best and worst situations.
The so-called plan B would be pressed into action if the government failed in convincing the learned court about the extension. The plan provides promulgation of presidential ordinance to facilitate the extension since the government is determined to save the situation and it wouldn’t allow any chaotic situation to develop.