LAHORE - The Lahore High Court Thursday sought arguments on mandate of the provincial interim government if it could remove the law officers appointed by the former government or not.

Justice Ali Akbar Qureshi was hearing a petition moved by 10 assistant advocate generals terminated recently by the interim government.

The terminated law officers include Barrister Asjad Saeed, Amar Sanaullah, Tariq Mahmood Butt, Ahmad Hassan Rana, Muhammad Tariq Nadeem, Barrister Bushra Saqib, Asif Afzal Bhatti, Chaudhry Jawad Yaqub, Khalid Masood Ghani and Barrister Ameer Abbas Ali Khan.

Former government appointed them on May 26 and May 30, however, the interim government removed them, saying that they were appointed in derogation of ECP ban.

Advocates Shahzad Shaukat and Khalid Ishaq represented the petitioners/law officers and questioned their removal by the . They  argued the caretaker government, under Election Rules 2017, could not terminate the law officers. They said it could only transfer or shuffle public officials, if considered expedient, after the approval of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

They argued that the process of the petitioners’ appointment was started in 2016 and they were selected through a proper channel. The counsels said they had been appointed for a probation period  of six months and they were to be regularized in light of their performance. However, the interim government by removing them acted beyond its jurisdiction, the contended. They said the caretaker government’s first and most important mandate was to ensure the fair and free election.  Their removal, they said, was against the law and powers of the caretaker government.

Additional Advocate General Khalid Waheed appeared before the court on behalf of the government. 

During the hearing, Justice Qureshi observed that why it took 20 days to caretaker government to decide the appointment of the law officers if their appointment was illegal. He also asked whether the interim government sought ECP’s approval for the removal of the law officers.   Justice Qureshi sought further arguments and adjourned the hearing for Friday (today).