Monday, November 23, 2015

Is conviction by court-martial a bar to high office?

The process is an unfamiliar one to an American reader, but it appears from this account in The Nation that the Supreme Court of Pakistan plays a role in reviewing appointments to high office -- and takes offense when the facts are concealed:
The Supreme Court yesterday expressed annoyance over the federal government for concealing the fact that Shujat Azeem, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) was court martialled. 
The attorney general was ordered to submit the service profile of Shujat Azeem. 
A three-judge bench, hearing the case, took strong exception to the petition filed by the federation as it concealed that Shujat was convicted by the Air Force. 
Deputy Attorney General sought permission to withdraw the petition, however, the bench rejected it. 
“We will not allow this to happen,” said Justice Amir Hani Muslim, who was heading the bench. 
The secretary CAA regretted the omission, and said it was not wilful. 
However, the court noted it was wilful, because when the secretary was confronted he admitted that Shujat left the service after he was court-martialled. 
The court, therefore, summoned Secretary Establishment. 
Nadeem Hassan Arif appeared before the court and submitted a summary of Shujat Azeem’s appointment. 
He told the court that the summary for the appointment of Shujat Azim had been floated by the secretary cabinet and not routed through the Establishment Division. 
The court noted that according to the summary Shujat Azeem was convicted by the Air Force. 
The bench expressed annoyance over the appointment of a convicted person as Special Assistant to PM. 
The court asked the Deputy Attorney General Sajid Illyas Bhatti that the federal government has two options, either to de-notify Shujat Azim or defend his appointment before it (court). 
The bench questioned whether the prime minister can appoint a convicted person on such an important post. 
The AAG sought some time to get instruction regarding the matter. 
The court, therefore, adjourned the case till 2nd December. 
In view of the apex court’s 25-07-13 order, Azim had tendered resignation as advisor to PM on CAA. 
However, he was again appointed as special assistant to PM on CAA after the retirement of former chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry.
Can a reader in Pakistan clarify the Supreme Court's role? 

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