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Tuesday Feb 25 2020
Web Desk

Sound bites: Should the law minister resign?

Web Desk
Minister of Law Farogh Naseem. Photo: File

Pakistan’s Attorney General Anwar Mansoor Khan stepped down last week, after his controversial remarks regarding members of the Supreme Court. In his resignation letter Khan stated that he was under pressure from the Pakistan Bar Council, an organisation of lawyers, of which Khan is the chairman, to relinquish his charge.

Soon after the attorney general packed up, the Pakistan Bar Council had one more demand. In a letter posted on social media, they insisted that the prime minister expel the Minister of Law Farogh Naseem for being “fully aware” of the provocative statement and for a “dubious” past record.

Should the law minister be sent home? asks law experts to weigh in:

Pakistan Bar Council asks PM Imran to expel Farogh Naseem from cabinet

“Asking for his resignation is justified”

I don’t know if he should resign or not, but I certainly think that asking for his resignation is justified, in light of what has happened in the Supreme Court this past week. There are certainly some doubts about his [Naseem’s] professional conduct as minister of law. I think there is a great deal of scope for doubting his propriety as minister.

And I don’t agree that he should step down till this matter is investigated. That has no meaning. Nobody should be allowed to step down and come back whenever they want. Although the minister has a history of doing so.

Also, he is not the only one in this government with a dubious character and past, in terms of supporting undemocratic values and institutions. I think this government is targeting the judiciary to bring them to some kind of submission. I am confident that all those people who believe in democratic dispensation will support the Pakistan Bar Council because they have a very clear and justified stance.

Hina Jilani an advocate in Pakistan's Supreme Court.

Read also: Attorney General Anwar Mansoor Khan resigns from office after run-in with Supreme Court

“He should not resign merely on conjectures”

Barrister Farogh Naseem should not resign on the call of the Pakistan Bar Council, without ascertaining first, what the conspiracies against the judiciary are.

Furthermore, if this is to be investigated, a quasi-judicial commission should be appointed, having sufficient representation of persons who are not connected with the judiciary. This is because the judiciary should not be seen as being judges in a cause where they have a specific interest, therefore their reputation and integrity.

Asking to resign from a post, without the benefit of a hearing or adducing evidence or providing a chance to the law minister to explain his position contravenes the principles of natural justice enshrined under the constitution. Therefore, unless it is done voluntarily, Farogh Naseem should not resign merely on conjectures.

Reza Ali is a barrister in Lahore.