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ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Friday turned down a writ petition challenging the appointment of former Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed as chairman of one-man inquiry commission to probe Broadsheet scam.

A single bench of Chief Justice Athar Minallah heard the petition filed by a lawyer, Saleemullah Khan in person and dismissed the same in limine.

At the outset, the petitioner raised objection that Justice Athar Minallah should not hear this case.

He submitted that he had requested the office not to fix the matter before Chief Justice, Justice Kayani, Justice Miangul Hassan, and Justice Aamer Farooq.

He had prayed that this petition be fixed before Justice Jehangiri or Justice Babar Sattar.

Justice Athar noted in his verdict that previously, in his personal cases, he had raised unjust objections on other benches.

Now he has requested that his cases be fixed before one of the two judges who were recently elevated.

"It is noted that neither a petitioner nor an enrolled Advocate has the privilege nor can claim a right to ask for fixation of his cases before a Bench of his choice. Such forum shopping, without a valid reason or justification, is not in consonance with the principles of administration of justice," said the IHC chief justice.

He added that in the petition in hand, the petitioner has challenged the appointment of former Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed as Commission by the federal government in exercise of powers conferred under the Commission of Inquiry Act, 2017.

The IHC bench observed that the petitioner, who is also an enrolled advocate of this court, cannot be granted a privilege to demand that his cases be fixed before a bench of his choice.

The petitioner was asked to argue his case but he refused without giving any valid reason. It noted that Rule 166 of Pakistan Legal Practitioners and Bar Councils Rules, 1973 declares that, "it is the duty of advocates to appear in Court when a matter is called and if it is so possible to make satisfactory alternative arrangements".

It continued that as noted above, the petitioner refused to argue his case and allowing forum shopping without a valid justification would amount to abuse of the process of the Court.

The bench further said the jurisdiction of this Court vested under Article 199 of the Constitution is discretionary.

The conduct of the petitioner is not reasonable nor can he be extended the privilege to insist upon fixation of his case before particular benches, without a just and valid reason.

The court order maintained, "For the above reasons, this Court is not inclined to exercise its extraordinary discretion vested under Article 199 of the Constitution. The petition is, therefore, accordingly dismissed in limine."

In his petition, the petitioner cited the federation of Pakistan through prime minister, former Justice Azmat Saeed, Supreme Judicial Council, Pakistan Bar Council, and Supreme Court Bar Association as respondents.

He stated that Azmat Saeed does not qualify for the judicial function he has been called upon to perform because he has served as the deputy prosecutor general of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) during the period of time when the fishy agreements were signed between the NAB and the Broadsheet LLC, while he was an active member of the five-member apex court bench which heard the highly politicized 'Panama Papers' and disqualified Nawaz Sharif, and former Justice Azmat is till date a governor in the board of governors of Shaukat Khanum Memorial Trust and hospital headed by Imran Khan, the current prime minister of Pakistan.

Therefore, he prayed before the court to declare his appointment notification as ultra vires of the Judges' Code of Conduct and direct the respondents to revise the said impugned notification appointing an individual who has an impartial past and profile, who is able to deliver the said task with full impartially and who is not suffering from any conflict of interest at all.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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