Federal and Provincial Governments cannot Engage Private Counsels Except in Accordance with the Rasheed Ahmad Case, When the State Counsels (AGP & AGs) lack the Relevant Expertise.

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Federal and Provincial Governments cannot Hire Services of a Private Counsel in a Routine Manner:

The Supreme Court has recently dismissed a CPLA filed by a component of the Federal Government, Askari Housing, on the ground, among other things,ย  that the said entity has engaged a private counsel in the case at hand without mentioning any reason and following the requisite criteria as stipulated in the Rasheed Ahmad case. The Supreme Court has ruled in the said case that services of a private counsel can only be engaged when the state law officers, that is to say, Attorney General for Pakistan in case of the Federation and Advocate Generals in case of the provinces, lack the requisite and relevant expertise in the sub-judice matter. The relevant portion of the case is reproduced hear for ready reference:

“There may however be cases which involve complicated questions of the Constitution or some extremely technical law which the Attorney-General, in case of the Federation, and the Advocate General, in the case of a province, and their law officers do not have the requisite ability to attend to. In such a case the concerned constitutional officer holder should certify that he and the law officers do not have the requisite expertise in the field and that the engagement of a private counsel who is competent and experienced is required. Needless to state, the engagement of private counsel can only be sanctioned for compelling reasons and in the public interest and not to protect or save a particular individual or for any other ulterior reason.โ€™ (para 21, pp.132- 133) โ€˜The Federal Government and the provincial governments have a host of law officers who are paid out of the public exchequer. If a government contends that none amongst its law officers are capable of handling cases then the question would arise why have incompetent persons been appointed. In such a scenario the public suffers twice, firstly they have to pay for incompetent law officers, and secondly, they have to pay again for the services of competent counsel the government engages. The public exchequer is not there to be squandered in this manner.โ€™ (para 17, p.130) “

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