Maryam initiates merit-based appointment of law officers

In Local
April 07, 2024



ISLAMABAD:

In a departure from past practices, Chief Minister Punjab Maryam Nawaz has greenlit Advocate General Punjab Khalid Ishaq to appoint law officers solely on merit.

A committee has been formed to assess the performance of current law officers serving in the Attorney General Punjab’s office. This committee is tasked with evaluating their effectiveness and competence.

The committee’s deliberations will also extend to considering the appointment of new officers.

Reports suggest that the total strength of law officers in Punjab stood at 66, a number that was significantly increased to 97 by former chief minister of Punjab Pervez Elahi. This expansion aimed to accommodate a greater number of lawyers at the expense of public funds.

However, according to an official from the AG Punjab office, there was deemed no necessity for an expansion in the number of law officers. He has also revealed that around 180 employees were hired in the AG Punjab office during Elahi’s tenure.

The Punjab government typically allocates approximately Rs1 million per law officer. Under the leadership of Maryam Nawaz, the government has once more downsized the total number of law officers from 98 to 66 to safeguard the public treasury.

The decision was made during a cabinet meeting.

Read: Maryam vows to protect bureaucrats

A committee comprising senior provincial officials has been formed to assess the performance of current law officers, alongside the implementation of new regulations aimed at appointing law officers in the AG Punjab office based on merit.

A senior government official revealed to The Express Tribune that for the position of assistant advocate general, the lawyer must possess a minimum of 20 judgments, while those aspiring to become additional advocate generals must have at least 30 judgments.

It is pertinent to note that the Supreme Court has repeatedly urged both federal and provincial governments to prioritize merit-based appointments when selecting law officers.

Read: Political fascism taking form of terror, says Maryam

Instances have been observed where the appointment process of law officers is influenced by the legal wings of political parties and various factions within the bar.

Interestingly, no clear criteria have been established for appointing law officers in the Advocate General’s office of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P).

A lawyer disclosed that he turned down the opportunity to serve as Advocate General KP due to the PTI-led K-P government’s apparent intention to prioritise members of the Insaf Lawyers Forum (ILF) in appointments to the AG KP office.

The ILF, which is PTI’s legal arm, was notably active in securing bail for PTI leaders following the violent incidents of May 9 last year.

Meanwhile, it was revealed that a majority of ILF members have been appointed as law officers, raising concerns of favouritism over merit in the government’s selection process.

The lawyer further disclosed that K-P government officials are now reaching out to private counsels for legal opinions.

 

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