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COAS extension in tenure, SC issues detailed verdict

The Supreme Court of Pakistan has issued a detailed verdict regarding the extension in tenure of Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa on Monday.

The verdict wrote by Justice Mansoor Ali Shah, states that SC bench “explored the scope of Article 243 of the Constitution, reviewed the Pakistan Army Act, 1952, the Pakistan Army Act Rules, 1954”.

The court, as per the detailed verdict, “found that the Pakistan Army Act, 1952 falls deficient of the structural requirements for raising and maintaining an Army under clause (3) of Article 243 of the Constitution”.

The verdict noted that “no tenure or age of retirement for the rank of General is provided under the law. As per the institutional practice, a General retires on completion of tenure of three years. Although an institutional practice cannot be a valid substitute for the law.”

It verdict further stated that in the light of the attorney general’s assurances as well as the importance of the responsibilities of the army chief, it is appropriate that the serving COAS General Qamar Javed Bajwa may continue for a period of six months.

Last month, the court had suspended the notification confirming the extension of General Bajwa for another three years after his term expires on November 29.

Later considering the attorney general’s assurances, the apex court warned that in the absence of legislation on the matter within six months, the institutional practice of retirement of a General on completion of the tenure of three years “shall stand enforced”.

“There is no provision in the law for extending service of a General for another tenure; nor is there any consistent and continuous institutional practice of granting such extension,” Justice Shah wrote, adding that the summaries for the reappointment, extension and fresh appointment of General Bajwa were “meaningless” in absence of the relevant law.

In the verdict, the supreme court urged the President to appoint a new army chief, saying that if there is no proper legislation then the army chief will be considered retired from November 29.

On November 28, in its short order,  the SC allowed the federal government to grant a six-month extension to COAS General Qamar Javed Bajwa.

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