LAHORE - The suspension of 37 judicial officers who earlier had been made OSD remained perhaps the most important decision against the lower judiciary of Punjab during the last week.

An administrative committee headed by Chief Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah took the decision and also gave approval of initiating regular disciplinary inquiry against the said judges. It is probably the toughest decision against the judges of the lower courts since the incumbent chief justice took the charge as head of the provincial judiciary last year.

The committee also gave approval for improving structure of Member Inspection Team (MIT) – a section of the LHC that holds inspection of lower courts’ judicial officials. It was also decided that syllabus for the recruitment of additional district & sessions judge and civil judges would also be improved in line with CSS examination process.

Another committee under the supervision of senior puisne judge, Justice Shahid Hameed Dar was constituted for making recommendations to the Chief Justice for improvement of the syllabus. The committee would submit its recommendations before the announcement of examination of the judicial officers. The committee would also submit its recommendations regarding constitution of Judicial Service Commission. The next date of examination of judges would be announced after the recommendations of the committee.

Surprisingly, the names of the judges who had been suspended and against whom regular disciplinary inquiry had also been approved were not issued to media by the LHC. What were their names and in what districts they had been appointed is yet not clear. However, the LHC PRO said the names would be issued on Monday (today).

Beside it, many important cases were taken up by the LHC during the last week. In Sharif family’s sugar mills case, the LHC directed Punjab cane commissioner to ensure release of farmers’ payments pending with Sharif family owned and other sugar mills in the province.

A division bench headed by Chief Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah passed the order, with directions to the cane commissioner to submit progress report on the matter on Feb 27 (today)

Chaudhry Sugar Mills Rahim Yar Khan, Ittefaq Sugar Mills Bahawalpur, and Haseeb Waqas Sugar Mills Muzaffargarh had filed appeals against a decision by a single bench striking down the shifting of the mills.

Earlier, Punjab government’s counsel Khwaja Harris in his arguments stated that under the law a sugar mill was required to seek permission from the department concerned for its relocation.

However, he said there was no mala fide in relocation policy introduced by the government for sugar mills in 2015.

On behalf of Haseeb Waqas and Chaudhry Sugar Mills, Advocate Ali Sibtain Fazli argued that the law did not require permission for the shifting but for establishing new sugar mills. He said when the sugar mills in question were shifted the law had no condition of approval. As the arguments of the counsel were in progress, the bench adjourned hearing till Monday (today).

The LHC also suspended an order of an anti-terrorism court wherein provisions of terrorism were ordered to be removed from Model Town incident’s case against workers of Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT).

Punjab prosecution department had moved an appeal before the LHC  challenging the decision of the ATC. A deputy prosecutor stated before the bench that the workers of the PAT were involved in attack on police personnel on June 17, 2014. He said one cop had died during the attack while many dozens of others received critical injuries. He said the trial court allowed an application of PAT and removed ATA sections from the case. The prosecutor argued the trial court passed an unfair order, which should be struck down.

However, the bench suspended the trial court order and also stopped it from transferring the case to an ordinary court. The bench also sought a reply from PAT by April 17.

Another important case was about the administrative control of five regulatory bodies to their respective ministries. The LHC  suspended a federal government notification about their transfer of administrative control.

The government had transferred the control of National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra), Oil & Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra), Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (Pepra) and Frequency Allocation Board (FAB) under their respective ministries.

on behalf of the petitioner, Advocate Sheraz Zaka argued that an approval from Council of Common Interest (CCI) was mandatory under the Constitution for transferring the control of the autonomous regulatory authorities to the ministries. He said the Supreme Court in its many judgements also declared approval of the CCI a mandatory provision for the purpose. He contended that the government on one hand was involved in production and transmission of electricity while on the other hand it wanted to assume the role of regulator by placing Nepra under the control of water and power ministry.

Similarly, he said, placing the PTA and FAB under the control of information technology & telecom ministry, PPRA under finance ministry and Ogra under petroleum ministry was a clear case of conflict of interest. The lawyer prayed to the court to set aside the impugned notification for being unlawful.

A deputy attorney general argued that the approval of CCI was not necessary as cabinet had approved the action.

The Chief Justice observed that rule of law was essential as the prime minister should have sought approval from CCI before issuing such notification. The chief justice suspended the impugned notification and directed  attorney general of Pakistan to assist the court on next hearing.

Moreover, the LHC directed Punjab home secretary to decide a representation of a non-government organisation “Taangh Wasaib” within two weeks challenging a government’s ban on its activities. While in Hafiz Saeed’s detention case, the LHC sought a report from Punjab home department.

The bench headed by Justice Sardar Muhammad Shamim Khan took up the petition filed by JuD chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, his aides Prof Malik Zafar Iqbal, Abdur Rehman Abid, Qazi Kashif Hussain and Abdullah Ubaid challenging their detention ordered by the provincial government. Advocate A.K Dogar represented the petitioners. The bench directed the home department to submit its report by March 7. Punjab government in light of interior ministry’s order detained them for a period of 90 days in exercise of powers under section 11-EEE(1) of Anti Terrorism Act 1997, their counsel told the court.

He said that Interior Minister Ch Nisar Ali Khan in a statement said the government was fulfilling its obligations under U.N resolutions. They said by doing so the government proved that the Pakistan was a servile and a dependent nation. The petitioners for the last many years have been serving the country like Abdul Sattar Edhi. The petitioners pleaded that the impugned orders issued by the government is without jurisdiction.

The petitioners argued that the government had no evidence that the petitioners are risk to security of Pakistan and merely on the basis of the U.N resolutions their liberty cannot be curtailed. They prayed to the court to set aside the government notifications for being illegal and set them at liberty.