Farogh Naseem, Federal Minister for Law and Justice, resigned on Monday to represent the federal government in the Supreme Court (SC) in the presidential reference against Justice Qazi Faez Isa on June 2 (today), however, the latter has urged the apex court not to allow Naseem’s representation, saying his conduct comes within the definition of “tout”. Legal experts are mulling over the question can Farogh Naseem represent the federation. The attorney general of Pakistan or any official from his office is officially entrusted to represent the federation.
Justice Qazi Faez Isa requested SC not to allow Farogh Naseem, who resigned from the post of law minister earlier in the day, to represent the federal government or any private respondent in his case as his conduct comes within the definition of “tout”. https://t.co/D7lnJCTA88
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According to the law, a serving minister cannot appear in a court of law as a lawyer, as their license is canceled during their tenure in the office.
This is the second time that Naseem, a Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) stalwart, has resigned from his post. Previously, he had resigned in November last year to represent General Qamar Javed Bajwa before the apex court in a case pertaining to the extension in his tenure as the army chief.
In an official statement, Naseem said: “I’ll represent the federation in the case and therefore I have tendered my resignation as the law minister. I have no personal vendetta [against] any person, judge, bar council or a lawyer not even with Justice Qazi Faez Isa. I will appear in the Honorable Court only as a lawyer to assist the Hon’ble Court.”
Can Farogh Naseem represent the federation? Justice Isa says “NO”
A six-page application submitted by Justice Isa against Naseem’s representation in the SC states, “This Honourable Court may be graciously pleased not to permit private counsel to represent official respondents and not to permit Mr Farogh Nasim, who was Law Minister till 1 June 2020, to represent anyone (other than himself) as counsel.”
“One is further constrained to point out that his conduct also comes within the definition of ‘tout’ mentioned in section 2(m) the Legal Practitioners and Bar Councils Act, 1973, which also describes, a tout as one ‘who procures…to any person interested in any legal business to procure’. In this case there has been double procurement. Mr Farogh Nasim, the Law Minister, procured this case for the Advocate, Mr Farogh Nasim,” the application read.
The top court judge said if the former law minister represents the government or anyone else in his case it would constitute “illegal practice in terms of Section 58 the Legal Practitioners and Bar Councils Act, 1973”.
Reference against Justice Isa
According to details, a full-court bench of the Supreme Court headed by Justice Umar Ata Bandial and comprising Justice Maqbool Baqar, Justice Manzoor Ahmad Malik, Justice Faisal Arab, Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel, Justice Sajjad Ali Shah, Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, Justice Munib Akhtar, Justice Yahya Afridi and Justice Qazi Muhammad Amin Ahmed is hearing Justice Isa’s petitions challenging the presidential reference against him.
Justice Isa has questioned the eligibility of SAPM Shahzad Akbar’s appointment as the head of the Asset Recovery Unit (ARU) and for public office. Justice Isa has raised some points on what experts believe to be ‘some valid technical grounds’ and maintained that the appointment of the SAPM was illegal.
The Supreme Court inquired about where the ARU received funds from for initiating an investigation against Justice Qazi Faez Isa. The court maintained that there can be no investigation through illegal means to obtain personal information.
Legal experts believe that apart from can Farogh Naseem represent the federation, the court may ask the federal government to explain its position on the matter. “This is not an ordinary matter. The court must look into it,” a lawyer said. It is argued that the SC is likely to ascertain the facts whether the reference has been filed on mala-fide intentions or not.
Notably, the reference filed against Justice Isa alleges that he acquired three properties in London on lease in the name of his wife and children between 2011 and 2015, but did not disclose them in his wealth returns.