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SC allows army chief's extension for six months

Govt submitted an undertaking that parliament will pass legislation within 6 months on extension of an army chief.
Published November 28, 2019
  • Govt submitted an undertaking that parliament will pass legislation within 6 months on extension of an army chief.
  • The COAS's tenure was supposed to expire at midnight.

The Supreme Court (SC) allowed on Thursday the extension of Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa's tenure for six months.

Earlier, the SC and government's representative mulled over extending a conditional three-month extension in COAS's tenure while the government comes up with a legislation. The government then presented a written summary undertaking that the parliament will pass legislation regarding the extension matter within six months and also an amended notification.

The amendments included the elimination of the mention of the SC, duration of the army chief's tenure and the description of army chief's salary and incentives.

A three-member bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Asif Saeed Khan Khosa and comprising Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel and Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah took up Riaz Hanif Rahi's petition against the extension in tenure of army chief.

The army chief is being represented by Farogh Naseem, who resigned from his post as law minister on Tuesday. During the hearing today, the bench asked Attorney General (AG) Anwar Mansoor Khan to present the extension notification issued for former army chief General (retd) Ashfaq Pervez Kiyani as well as that of General (retd) Raheel Sharif's retirement.

The AG also submitted the summary of the third draft notification prepared by the government yesterday. Reading out the summary, the CJP asked why does the summary mention SC.

"Bear your own burden, why do you use our name? Do your own work, why do you drag us in the middle?" He also directed the AG to eliminate the mention of the SC from the summary. He told the AGP to specifically remove the part referencing the court’s advice from the summary. "If the president wants our advice, that is a different matter," the chief justice said.

The bench noted that Bajwa was already the army chief and inquired how can an appointment be made on a position that is already occupied. The SC remarked that there is no mention of a tenure of three years in the law.

Justice Shah asked the AG to suggest how to fix laws regarding the army. The AG replied that it would take time more than three months pass legislation on this matter. Naseem said that the government will make amends in Article 243 and was ready to even provide a written summary.

The top court has asked government to submit a written statement to ensure that the parliament will legislate on the matter within six months.It also asked the government to submit a written summary eliminating the description of army chief's salary and incentives, mention of the SC and duration of the tenure.

The top court then reserved its verdict and said that it would announce its verdict in the afternoon.

Meanwhile, the Pakistan Bar Association restored the license of Naseem. The CJP had told him on Wednesday that the top court did not want to waste time on a side issue and asked the former minister to settle the issue or come with an associate if he wanted to argue on the army chief's behalf.

During the hearing on Wednesday, the CJP said that at one place the government is limiting the retirement of incumbent army chief under Regulation 255 of Army Regulations (Rules), but under the Article 243 is granting him extension.

The SC had suspended the COAS's extension notification on Tuesday. The top court also took up the original petition in public interest under Article 184 (3) of the Constitution and converted it into a suo motu notice.

Following the hearing, Prime Minister (PM) Imran Khan, COAS and senior members of the federal cabinet on Wednesday held a meeting  to deal with the legal crisis arising out of the top court hearing on extension in the tenure of the army chief for another three years.

The PM had approved three-year extension in the tenure of General Bajwa in August . The army chief is set to retire on November 29.“General Qamar Javed Bajwa is appointed Chief of Army Staff for another term of three years from the date of completion of current tenure," a notification issued from the PM's Office had said.


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