LAHORE - The Punjab Prosecution Department has appointed nine additional prosecutors general (AGPs) who don’t possess the mandatory 10-year experience of practice in the Lahore High Court and also don’t have licences of Supreme Court Bar Association, The Nation has learnt.

According to a notification issued by Prosecution Secretary Nadeem Irshad Kayani, nine district public prosecutors (DPPs) have been appointed directly as APGs for appearing before the apex court (Supreme Court) and the high court on temporary basis. They are Ahmad Raza, Iftikhar Ahmad, Gulzar Ahmad, Shaukat Ghouri, Saeed Ahmad, Abdul Qayyum, Saeed Ahmad Mumtaz, Muqqadis Tahir and Mustafa Nadeem.

A senior official, who wished not to be named, told The Nation that the prosecution secretary had appointed these DPPs as AGPs without verifying their qualification and experience mandatory for the post.

“At least 10-year experience of practice in the high court is compulsory for appointment as an additional prosecutor general (APG),” he pointed out, adding the newly appointed APGs had just two to four years experience.

The seven DDPPs (deputy district public prosecutors) who were already working as AGPs in their own basic pay scales (BPS) have been sent back to the department for appearing in the district judiciary. Importantly, the transferred DDPPs were not taking an allowance of Rs 75,000 being paid to APGs.

“A new APG will get Rs 145,000 or so as salary and other benefits against his real pay scale of DPP, which is a burden on the provincial exchequer,” the official said, adding the seven transferred DDPPs were drawing their salaries in their own pay scales.

Quoting the rules and regulations of the department, the official further added that only a deputy prosecutor general (DPG) could be notified and appointed as an AGP after giving him promotion.

He said many DPGs who joined the department through Punjab Public Service Commission were waiting their promotions as APGs, but such practice of political appointments was discouraging them.

“The only reason behind such political appointments is lack of service structure for prosecutors of the department,” the officials added.

Justice Manzoor Ahmad Malik of the Lahore High Court on Monday also expressed displeasure over the performance of newly appointed APG Ahmad Raza. The judge summoned Acting Prosecutor General Asjad Javed Garaal and showed his dismay over the appointments of such inexperienced APGs.

A court official, seeking anonymity, told this scribe that the acting PG said he was powerless in appointments of the APGs. However, the judge asked him to depute the experienced and professional APGs who were already appearing in his court in criminal cases.

Director appeals in Punjab Prosecution Department, Mumtaz Dogar, denied the allegations of inexperience and incompetence and said these nine APGs had been appointed in view of the recommendations of a four-member committee of the department. Former Prosecutor General Sadaqat Ali Khan who is a sitting judge of the Lahore High Court was also a member of the committee, Mumtaz Dogar added. He said Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif had also approved the summary regarding recommendations of these nine APGs.

He said these appointments had been made purely in accordance with the rules and regulations. He added all the new APGs fulfilled the requisite qualification and experience. “They are most seniors among the DPPs,” he added.

“The apex court means the Supreme Court and a high court,” Mumtaz said while replying to a query about the notification issued for the appointments of new APGs to appear before the apex court.

He claimed any government lawyer could appear in the apex court even if he didn’t possess a licence of the Supreme Court Bar Association.

However, Acting Prosecutor General Asjad Javed Garaal has given an opinion completely different from that of the director appeals of the Prosecution Department.

He said a DPP could not be appointed as an APG until he fulfilled requisite experience of 10 years practice in the LHC. He admitted that these nine APGs would work in basic pay scale-19 and also receive Rs 75,000 allowance per month. He also admitted that these nine APGs didn’t have 10-year experience of practice in the high court and no one of them possessed an SCBA licence. He said they had been appointed on temporary basis for one year.