ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court of Pakistan Monday issued a notice to Prime Minister Imran Khan for participating in a function of the Insaf Lawyers Forum (ILF) at the Convention Centre here.

A two-member bench of the apex court comprising Justice Qazi Faez Isa and Justice Amin ud Din Khan conducted hearing of a civil matter wherein the petitioner sought time to engage a lawyer as his counsel Ahmed Awais has elevated as Advocate General (AG) of Punjab.

The bench also issued notices to the Attorney General for Pakistan, AG Punjab, Pakistan Bar Council, the Supreme Court Bar Association and the Punjab Bar Council, in-charge Convention Centre, Islamabad, and Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA).

Last week, Prime Minister Imran Khan had attended a ceremony of PTI-affiliated lawyers’ forum at the Convention Centre. Addressing the ILF, he had said that the opposition parties’ real issue with the military was that – unlike other institutions – they were unable to ‘control’ the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) after the agency ‘found out’ about their alleged corruption. He also spoke about the tenures of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, saying that the PML-N supremo ‘fought with every army chief’ because he wanted to turn the military into Punjab police.

Justice Qazi Faez said, “The prime minister is the premier of the whole country, not of one particular group or party.” He added, “Why is he misusing the state’s resources?” He referred the matter to the Chief Justice of Pakistan to constitute a bench as it related to the Constitution and fundamental rights.

During the hearing, the judge observed that the Prime Minister had attended the ceremony in his personal capacity, which showed that he supported a particular group. He remarked that how the premier could align himself with one particular group.

During the proceedings, Syed Rifaqat Hussain Shah, an officer of Supreme Court, and the Additional Secretary Supreme Court Bar Association of Pakistan, who were present in the Court, stated that Ahmed Awais as AG should not involve himself in the Bar politics as he is the ex-officio Chairman of the Punjab Bar Council.

Rifaqat told the court that AG continues to be actively involved in Bar politics and participated in a function held by a particular segment of the legal community to canvass support for their candidate in the upcoming elections of the Association and was in the forefront of the function held at the Convention Centre, Islamabad, which was broadcast on all television channels where he can be seen sitting with the Prime Minister of Pakistan.

He stated that the Prime Minister of Pakistan is the Prime Minister of each and every citizen and cannot align himself with a particular group and all the more so in a function which is held in a public venue and paid for by the tax payers.

The apex court observed that the concern expressed by Rifaqat Hussain involved serious issues, including the maintenance of the integrity of public offices and fundamental rights, including Articles 18, 25, 26 and the prescribed oath of office of the Prime Minister. “Since the matter appears to be of ‘public importance with reference to the enforcement of any of the Fundamental Rights’ in terms of Article 184(3) of the Constitution this Court accordingly takes notice.”

It issued notice to the Prime Minister Imran Khan, since the utilization by him of public building, that is, the Convention Centre, Islamabad, was for a private function which apparently had no concern with ‘the exercise of powers and performance of functions’ of his office (in terms of Article 248 of the Constitution).

The Court noted that Ahmed Awais, appears to be, personally conflicted the AG Office.

The court directed the law officers and all concerned to come prepared to dilate on whether a public building and the public offices of the Prime Minister and the Advocate General Punjab can be used for personal and or the political purposes of the political party to which they belong.

The in-charge Convention Centre was ordered to submit a report about; Who sought permission for the use of the Convention Centre in respect of the said function?; Who granted permission for the use of the Convention Centre?; Whether a bill was raised and payment made, and if so, by whom, for the use of the Convention Centre?

The court also issued notice to PEMRA to submit a copy of the complete recording of the said function held in the Convention Centre; transcript of the recording; the television channels which had broadcast the said function live, which had broadcast it later and how many times.

The SC office is directed to prepare a separate file and number and place it before the Chief Justice of Pakistan for constitution of an appropriate Bench to hear the case.