Pak SC suspends licence of Zardari lawyer

Islamabad: Pakistan`s Supreme Court today temporarily suspended the lawyer`s licence of Babar Awan, a former law minister and the President`s close aide, who is acting as the government`s lawyer in several high-profile cases for failing to respond to a contempt notice.

An 11-judge bench headed by the Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry suspended Awan`s licence when he appeared in court this morning to represent the government in a case for reviewing the death sentence awarded to former premier Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.

The bench said the action was being taken as Awan had failed to respond to a contempt notice. The bench further said Awan`s behaviour towards the apex court had been "inappropriate".

Awan had resigned from the post of Law Minister last year to represent the government in a reference filed by President Asif Ali Zardari that asked the apex court to review the death sentence awarded to Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.
The bench said the President should be informed that his counsel`s license had been suspended and that the government should find a new lawyer.

Awan, a close associate of Zardari, has angered the apex court several times  in the recent past by criticising its orders and making irreverent remarks about judges. He was last month appointed the vice-president of the ruling Pakistan People`s Party despite facing criticism within the party.

During today`s proceedings, the apex court turned down Awan`s request for more time to file a reply to the contempt notice. The bench was of the view that 15 days had been given to Awan and this time was enough to file a response.

Awan sought time from the bench to find a new lawyer to represent the government but the court said it was passing an interim order for suspending his license. The court also sought his complete educational records.

The Chief Justice questioned Awan whether he was served a contempt notice by the Lahore High Court earlier. Justice Saqib Nisar pointed out that a bench of the apex court headed by him too had served a contempt notice on Awan and that the notice was rescinded after Awan sought a pardon.