LAHORE: Following a recusal by a judge on medical grounds, Lahore High Court (LHC) Chief Justice Muhammad Ameer Bhatti on Saturday reconstituted a five-member larger bench to decide petitions questioning power of the caretaker government to remove public servants, including Advocate General of Punjab (AGP) Ahmad Awais, and other law officers.
On Feb 2, the chief justice formed a larger bench headed by Justice Ali Baqar Najafi and comprising Justice Abid Aziz Sheikh, Justice Muzamil Akhtar Shabbir, Justice Rasaal Hassan Syed and Justice Asim Hafeez.
A statement issued by the LHC media cell says Justice Syed recused himself from the bench for medical reasons. Therefore, Chief Justice Bhatti reconstituted the bench and replaced Justice Syed with Justice Shahid Karim. Previously, a three-member full bench was formed to hear the petitions.
Initially, Justice Shabir, as single bench, had heard several petitions by the removed heads of different departments, public companies and their board of directors.
Later, a petition challenging the removal of AGP Awais was also fixed before Justice Shabir on Jan 26. However, the judge at the next hearing recused himself from the matter, referring the petition back to the chief justice.
The petition was then fixed before Justice Karim, but the hearing could not be held due to paucity of time as it was Friday on Jan 27.
However, Justice Hafeez, being available on Friday, heard the petition of the advocate general, restored him provisionally and issued notices to the respondents.
The judge also referred the petition to the chief justice with a request to fix the same before a full bench already hearing petitions having similar law points.
Following a recusal by Justice Shujaat Ali Khan, the head of the full bench, the chief justice constituted a new five-member larger bench headed by Justice Najafi.
Published in Dawn, February 5th, 2023