LAHORE - The Lahore High Court has withdrawn the promotions of two officers as additional registrar (BS-20) and a Qasid made by outgoing LHC chief justice Yawar Ali after relaxing rules just two days before his retirement.

As per a notification issued by the LHC registrar earlier, the honourable chief justice promoted Afzaal Fazal Khokhar and Muhammad Ishaque Khaliqui as senior private secretary/secretary to chief justice and associate/additional registrar (court) respectively.

It states, “The honourable chief justice has been pleased to promote the following officers as additional registrar (BS-20), on administrative side, in relaxation of Rules, in the public interest, with immediate effect.”

The outgoing CJ through another notification had created two new posts of additional registrar to accommodate the two officers. Thus, Mr Khokhar had been posted as additional registrar (protocol for retired judges) and Mr Khaliqui as additional registrar (election tribunals).

By relaxing rules, Justice Yawar, who reached superannuation on yesterday, had also promoted Nadeem Masih, Naib Qasid (BS-4) of his court as Qasid (BS-5) on regular basis.

As per legal experts, the exercise of discretionary powers by relaxing rules is a violation of 2016 Supreme Court judgment regarding appointments in Islamabad High Court (IHC). The apex court had discouraged the exercise of discretionary powers by a chief justice under Rule 26 of high court rules unless it was “just and equitable”.

On September 26, 2018, the Supreme Court ordered the de-notification of all recruitments made in the IHC between 2011 and 2012. The landmark judgment that was aimed to change the course of future appointments, deputation, absorption and re-appointments to the high courts says, “The IHC chief justice and/or the administration committee of the high court have made appointments... in complete disregard of the mandate given by the rules framed under article 208 of the Constitution.”

In presence of the landmark judgment arrived just less than a month ago, the outgoing chief justice made the promotions relaxing the rules and then had to withdraw the same following the matter was highlighted in the media. The chief justice withdrew the promotions of two officers and issued a new notification which says, “The Honourable Chief Justice, having recalled the promotions made vide order Endst. 18670/HR-111 dared 19.10.2018, has been pleased to cancel the postings/transfers of the officers made vide notification No.1617/HR-II dared 19.10.2018, in the public interest, with immediate effect.”

Before the withdrawal of the out-of-turn promotions, the LHC officials in a statement had clarified that “the Honourable Chief Justice, in exercise of the powers under rules, has transferred and posted the officers from one cader to another and in fact one officer presently getting pay in BS 21 has been posted in BS 20 while the other drawing pay in BS 20 has been posted in same scale in another cadre in keeping with previous precedent.’

Immediately after the statement, it was submitted that clarification dated 21.10 2018 viz a viz out-of-turn promotion is withdrawn.