LHC Chief Justice Muhammad Ameer Bhatti in a single-judge bench stayed the proceedings of a case being heard by another single-judge bench of fellow judge Justice Anwarul Haq Pannu on a petition filed by the LHC through its registrar.
The order read, “Notice to respondent No.1 for 30-11-2021. The service of said respondent be effected through the agency of learned Senior Civil Judge concerned, registered post A.D. and Courier Service at the expenses of the applicant, to be deposited within three days”.
The order further stated, “Subject to notice for the said date, the proceedings in the matter pending at LHC, Bahawalpur Bench, shall remain stayed, meanwhile.”
The lawyers have expressed shock over a single-judge bench staying the proceedings of a case before another single-judge bench. The lawyers said that there is no such precedent and they believe that at least an LHC division bench could grant a stay order on the proceeding of a single-judge bench, or the matter could be taken to the Supreme Court to seek a stay or any other order.
Advocate Khurram Chughtai said, “It is unprecedented”.
Another lawyer, Chaudhary Shoaib Saleem, said, “I believe the CJ or any single bench has no jurisdiction to entertain any fresh petition against the order of a single bench.” He further said, “Only appellate forums either in the form of ICA or the Supreme Court can be moved for assailing the order of a single bench. Since the registrar is himself the petitioner, who has to raise objection against the maintainability of the petition, and the CJ has taken it up, maybe a new law is in the making, but it seems without any lawful authority having no backing or force of any codified law.”
The LHC, through its registrar, submitted a petition stating, “If further proceedings in the said petition are allowed to be carried out at Bahawalpur Bench, the applicant is likely to suffer irreparable loss and injury.”
It said, “It is therefore respectfully prayed that while accepting the application in hand, until disposal of the main petition, further proceedings in said petition may kindly be stayed.”
The case started following the issuance of a final show-cause notice on October 12, 2021, by the LHC establishment, dispensing with the inquiry, in addition to the denial of certified copies for the reply of the said notice against Akmal Khan, who was serving at its Bahawalpur Bench. However, Khan challenged the show-cause notice before the LHC.
Justice Pannu, who was hearing his case, had scheduled the next hearing for November 24 but the single-judge bench of CJ Bhatti granted a stay order and issued notices to both parties for a hearing on November 30, 2021.
Khan, who would now face suspension besides the show-cause notice, said that the show-cause was against the procedure, self-styled and purely gratuitous. He continued that the law had settled that previous charges could not be improved, especially when litigation was already pending as it could affect the transparency of any inquiry. The petitioner further stated that apart from being illegal, the show-cause notice was issued in a rushed manner and was nothing but vindictive, intimidating, and illegal.
He also provided answers to all the charges leveled against him in the show-cause notice, and asked the court to declare it non-maintainable, non-transparent, illegal, unlawful, ultra vires, and against the norms of natural justice.
The petitioner told the court that he was not promoted timely, so he agitated his case for promotion, which was due since 2009, but he was not promoted. Khan said he was being cornered and disciplinary proceedings were against him were initiated to teach him a lesson.