ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court was apprised on Monday that President Mamnoon Hussain had rejected five names forwarded to him by the Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi to fill the vacant slot of National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) prosecutor general.
A three-member Supreme Court bench comprising Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, Justice Umar Ata Bandial and Justice Ijazul Ahsan was hearing a suo motu case about non-functioning tribunals and special courts across the country.
Additional attorney general Mohammad Waqar Rana apprised the court that NAB chairman had sent five names to the prime minister to fill the vacant office of the NAB’s prosecutor general and the premier had forwarded these names to the President, who rejected them.
The names rejected by the President included Faseeh ul Mulk, Mudassir Khalid Abbasi, Syed Asghar Haider, Shah Khawar and Nasir Saeed Sheikh.
Waqar Rana also told the court that the President had proposed the names of senior lawyers Waqar Hassan Mir, Chaudhry Mohammad Ramzan and Najeeb Faisal Chaudhry for the top slot. He stated that all these three names recommended by the President were earlier rejected by the NAB Chairman Justice (r) Javed Iqbal.
The chief justice observed that the President was bound to accept the advice of the prime minister and inquired how can the president reject the names recommended by the prime minister?
He said under Article 48, Section 1(a) of the Constitution, the President is bound to approve any documents sent to him by the prime minister or the federal cabinet.
He said although the President can send the files forwarded to him back to the prime minister for reconsideration, however he can’t reject them.
Waqar Rana however stated that the President can propose the names with the consultation of the NAB chairman. To a query by Justice Ijazul Ahsan that whether the President had given the reasons for rejecting the names, Waqar Rana stated that two names sent by the NAB chairman had the ages more than 65-years. He said it seemed as if the matter was heading towards the ‘deadlock’. “You have stated a big word, the chief justice told the additional attorney general and asked whether the President can reject the names under the constitution”.
Waqar Rana then stated that the President has no authority to reject the names, however, he can sent the names back to the prime minister for further consideration.
To a query by the chief justice that whether the President is aware about his authority in this regard, Waqar Rana stated that on a previous hearing Attorney General Ashtar Ausaf Ali had assured Justice Gulzar Ahmad that the prosecutor general will be appointed within a week.
Meanwhile, the court summoned the law secretary Karamat Hussain Niazi along with the record over the matter, who appeared shortly and submitted the record about the President’s rejection and to explain the delay in implementation of the court order regarding the appointment.
The court sought written reply from the government and adjourned the hearing till January 24. Earlier on January 11, the chief justice had directed the government to fill all vacant positions of judges within a week.
The post of prosecutor general NAB is lying vacant since November 23, 2017, when former prosecutor general Waqas Qadeer Dar had relinquished the office after expiry of his three year term.