SC declaration on president's office sparks legal debate
10 November, 2012
ISLAMABAD: A legal debate has started regarding the Supreme Court's declaration in Asghar Khan case that "the president of Pakistan after entering into his office obtained the status which falls under the definition of a person who is in the 'service of Pakistan'".
Talking to our sources, Pakistan Bar Council Vice Chairman Akhtar Hussain objected to the court's observation and said that the president was part of parliament; therefore he could not fall under the definition of a person who is in the service of Pakistan. Hussain also said that the president addresses parliament annually.
Former advocate general of Punjab Khawaja Haris said that a single bench of the Lahore High Court had observed that the president's office is constitutional, but did not comment on the Supreme Court's judgement regarding the president's office as service of Pakistan. He said that according to the all-Pakistan service and service in the armed forces laws a person in the service of Pakistan cannot take part in political activities and cannot even not talk to media nor can publicly give opinion for two years after retirement.
If the president's office falls in the definition of "service of Pakistan" then President Asif Ali Zardari would not be eligible for re-election for the post. He would not be allowed to take part in politics and talk to media at least for two years on the completion of his term, the former AG Punjab contended. Active lawyer Chaudhry Faisal Hussain said that constitution itself is a political document and president was elected through political process and could not be included in the definition of "service of Pakistan".
He said that Asghar case judgement was delivered in a specific background so how could President Zardari be held responsible for the act of former president Ghulam Ishaq Khan. Commenting on the issue, renowned lawyer Dr Abdul Basit said that there are four offices in Pakistan – Constitutional, Service of Pakistan, Administrative and elected offices. He said that president's office is constitutional and could not fall in the "service of Pakistan" definition.
According to Article 260 of the constitution, service of Pakistan means any service, post or office in connection with the affairs of the federation or of a province, and includes an all-Pakistan service, service in the armed forces and any other service declared to be a service of Pakistan by or under Act of Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament) or of a provincial assembly, but does not include service as speaker, deputy speaker, chairman, deputy chairman, prime minister, federal minister, minister of state, chief minister, provincial minister, attorney general, advocate general, parliamentary secretary or chairman or member of a law commission, chairman or member of the Council of Islamic Ideology, special assistant to the prime minister, adviser to the prime minister, special assistant to a chief minister, adviser to a chief minister or member of a House or a provincial assembly.
The said article specifically excludes certain offices from the service of Pakistan that are listed after the phrase "but does not include". The office of president and the governors of the provinces are not listed among these exceptions.