SC rejects govt’s plea for more time, change of counsel in NRO case


The Supreme Court on Monday dismissed the government’s plea seeking replacement of its counsel and more time to plead the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) review petition, already set for hearing on October 13.
The three-member SC bench of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Justice Ghulam Rabbani and Justice Khalilur Rehman Ramday, was hearing the federation’s application seeking postponement of its review petition against the NRO verdict until it found a replacement for its lawyer, Barrister Kamal Azfar, who had been elevated to the position of adviser to the prime minister.
The court dismissed the application after the government failed to present any solid justification for the postponement of the NRO review petition, scheduled to be heard by the 17-member larger bench of the SC on October 13.
During the hearing, the chief justice said the petition was being dismissed as the government did not come up with any other name to replace its counsel and was simply praying for adjournment on the grounds that its counsel, Azfar, had been appointed as prime minister’s adviser.
He asked government’s Advocate-on-Record (AOR) Raja Abdul Ghafoor why had Azfar been hastily appointed adviser to the prime minister and his notification issued on a Sunday, which was a holiday?
“If the government is really serious, then it should de-notify the appointment,” the chief justice said. He said it was not good to humiliate the superior court to such an extent, adding that the government seemed to be making mockery of the court.
“First the government related the NRO implementation case with the review petition and now it is not letting the court hear the review plea,” the chief justice lamented. The chief justice made it clear that “hearing of all the important cases including the NRO implementation, its review plea and others will be resumed on October 13.”
“These are all delaying tactics which the government is adopting,” Justice Khalilur Rehman Ramday observed. He too asked how could the government issue a notification on Sunday?
“If a notification can be issued on a holiday by using government’s machinery, then the de-notification can also be issued on a working day,” the chief justice observed.
Appearing on notice, Attorney General Maulvi Anwarul Haq presented a copy of the notification. The chief justice asked the attorney general for a justification for it to which the Haq could not give a satisfactory answer.
Salman Akram Raja advocate, one of the respondents in the case, said the government’s attitude was not serious. He asked the court to direct the government to immediately withdraw Azfar’s notification.