The Supreme Court is hearing a petition against the three-year extension in Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa’s tenure.
The court asked the petitioner, Riaz Hanif Rahi, where he was yesterday. The judges asked him whether he wanted to proceed with his petition. When he said that due to some reasons, he did not, the judges said the court would proceed with it for him.
The court said that incorrect news had been circulating that it had taken suo motu notice of this case.
Attorney General of Pakistan Anwar Mansoor Khan is present in court and says he will talk about the cabinet issue raised in the petition.
He said that under Article 243 of the Constitution, the president of Pakistan is the supreme commander of the armed forces and has the power to make appointments. When the court asked under what law the army regulation law is made, AGP Khan replied the Army Act.
The petition has been filed by Riaz Hanif Rahi on behalf of the Jurist Foundation. On Tuesday, the foundation sought to withdraw it petition. This request was heard by three judges of the Supreme Court: Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel and Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah. But the bench rejected the request to withdraw the original petition.
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court suspended the official notification that extended the army chief’s tenure. Farogh Naseem resigned as federal law minister to represent General Bajwa in the case.
The court said that it will hear the case as it is a matter of national interest and comes under Article 184 (3) of the Constitution. The court has converted the petition into a suo motu case.
The court has named the army chief as a party in the case and ordered the attorney general, the highest legal representative of the government, to give final arguments. The court has issued notices to other parties named in the case, including the prime minister and President Dr Arif Alvi. It has asked them to submit their replies.
The Supreme Court said that the attorney general was asked under what law can an army chief’s tenure be extended or he can be re-appointed. But the country’s top lawyer failed to do so.
Understanding the case
On August 19, the prime minister re-appointed the army chief. But when he was informed that he didn’t have the power to do so, as it was the prerogative of the president, then a summary was sent on the same day to the President House. President Arif Alvi then approved the re-appointment, according to the court.
After this, the government realized that the cabinet has to approve the extension. Then, on August 20, a day after the notification had been issued, a summary for the extension was sent to the cabinet: 11 out of 25 cabinet members approved the summary. The rest of the cabinet members did not respond. The court said that since the majority of the cabinet did not approve the summary, it could not be considered as approved. Even if it was considered approved by the cabinet, the summary was never sent back to the prime minister or the president.
The court said if the argument that the army chief’s tenure should be extended because of a threat to regional security was to be accepted, then everyone in the army would start seeking an extension in their tenures. It was not an individual’s responsibility, but the entire army’s as an institution to counter a regional threat.