December 1, 2023

SC affirms six-month re-appointment of Gen. Bajwa as COAS


Islamabad: (Ch Mudassar Iqbal):The Supreme Court on Thursday granted six-month conditional appointment to General Qamar Javed Bajwa as Chief of Army Staff (COAS).

A three-member bench, headed by Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa and comprising Justice Mazhar Alam Khan and Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, announced the short order. Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa read out the short judgment and stated that the detailed order would be issued later on.

The order read: “Considering that the COAS is responsible for the command, discipline, training, administration, organization and preparedness for war of the Army and is the Chief Executive in General Headquarters, we, while exercising judicial restraint, find it appropriate to leave the matter to the Parliament and the Federal Government to clearly specify the terms and conditions of service of the COAS through an Act of Parliament and to clarify the scope of Article 243 of the Constitution in this regard.”

“Therefore, the current appointment of General Qamar Javed Bajwa as COAS shall be subject to the said legislation and shall continue for a period of six months from today, whereafter the new legislation shall
determine his tenure and other terms and conditions of service,” the order said.

It further stated: “The extension/reappointment of General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) has been challenged before us. In the proceedings, the Federal Government has moved from one position to another referring to it as reappointment, limiting of retirement or extension of tenure and has also interchangeably placed reliance on Article 243(4)(b) of the Constitution and Regulation 255 of the Army Regulations (Rules), 1998.

“However, finally today the Federal Government through the learned Attorney General for Pakistan has presented this Court with a recent summary, approved by the President on the advice of the Prime Minister along with notification dated 28.11.2019 which shows that General Qamar Javed Bajwa has been appointed as COAS under Article 243(4)(b) of the Constitution with effect from 28.11.2019.”

The court said: “We have examined Article 243(4)(b) of the Constitution, Pakistan Army Act, 1952, Pakistan Army Act Rules, 1954 and Army Regulations (Rules), 1998 and in spite of the assistance, rendered by the learned Attorney-General, we could not find any provision relating to the tenure of COAS or of a General and whether the COAS can be reappointed or his term, can be extended or his retirement can be limited or suspended under the Constitution or the law.”

“The Attorney General has explained that the answers to these questions are based on practice being followed in the Pakistan Army but the said practice has not been codified under the law.”

The decision stated: “Article 243 of the Constitution clearly mandates that the supreme command of the Armed Forces – Constitution Petition No. 39 of 2019 3 – shall vest in the President. It further provides that the President shall, subject to law, have power to raise and maintain the military, etc. and it is the President who on the advice of the Prime Minister shall appoint, inter alia, COAS.”

The order said: ” Article 243 of the Constitution, therefore, clearly shows that the President shall, subject to law, raise and maintain the military, however, the laws referred to above do not specify the tenure, retirement, reappointment and extension of the COAS or of a General of the Pakistan Army.”

The order further read: “The learned Attorney-General has categorically assured the Court that this practice being followed is to be codified under the law and undertakes that the Federal Government shall initiate the process to carry out the necessary legislation in this regard and seeks a period of six months for getting the needful done.

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