After two months of controversy, the federal government has finally decided to appoint Barrister Shehzad Elahi as its new top lawyer.
A senior government official confirmed to The Express Tribune that the decision to appoint Elahi as the new attorney general for Pakistan (AGP) had been made.
Elahi will replace Ashtar Ausaf Ali, who resigned on account of his deteriorating health.
Elahi is a grandson of former president Fazal Ilahi Chaudhry and enjoys a good reputation for his hard work, integrity and understanding of legal issues.
Read more: Mansoor Awan declines AGP post
He is also a young corporate lawyer with experience in commercial, tax and banking laws, civil, commercial, corporate, constitutional litigation, etc.
Elahi belongs to the famous law firm, Cornelius, Lane and Mufti.
Interestingly, Supreme Court judge Justice Ijazul Ahsan also worked with this firm before his elevation to the bench.
Hamid Khan and Salman Aslam Butt are senior members of this firm and former chief justice Jawad S Khawaja had also worked with it.
A member of the Independent Lawyers Group claims that one section within the superior judiciary was more interested in appointing Elahi as the new AGP.
He regrets that the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM)-led government has not taken a stand against the ‘powerful circles’ on any issue.
However, legal experts believe that the government is facing several constitutional challenges at the present time and that is why it cannot afford to annoy the ‘powerful circles’.
They say that it is a practice that the government appoints the AGP after an informal consultation with the judiciary.
Earlier, President Arif Alvi on December 24 approved the summary of Mansoor Usman Awan as the new AGP, but he later recused himself from holding the post.
In his letter to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Awan had stated: “Last month, you had offered me to serve as the attorney general for Pakistan, for which I am very grateful. However, due to unavoidable professional commitments, I will be unable to serve as the attorney general for Pakistan, at this time. I remain very thankful to you for reposing your confidence in me.”
Awan was representing the federal government in several political and constitutional cases.
Awan, who enjoys a good reputation within the legal fraternity, was a partner with Justice Babar Sattar in a legal firm before the latter’s appointment to the Islamabad High Court.
Senior lawyers are of the view that Awan became a victim of “judicial politics”.
Later, Awan himself decided not to become a part of any controversy and focus on his private practice.
The appointment of the new AGP will be significant in connection with the appointment of two SC judges.
If Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial nominates junior judges for their elevation to the SC, he would require full support from the government representatives — the AGP and law minister.
Three senior SC judges, who are members of the Judicial Commission of Pakistan, believe that if the appropriate criteria on superior judiciary’s appointment does not evolve, then the seniority principle should be followed in the process.
It is being witnessed that a controversy on judges’ appointment has remained dominant during the one-year tenure of CJP Bandial.
Senior lawyers regret that “judicial politics” is in full swing on the issues related to the appointment of judges, composition of benches and fixation of cases.