Remember Justice Bhagwandas had been working for the supreme court heading the judicial commission investigating oil and gas prices. The commission had found glaring faults in the mechanism and reported that the oil companies had been given a free hand to bilk consumers and made huge profits (one refinery alone saw it’s profits go up more than 4,331%) . In fact it was on the basis of that report that Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry defined it as “A massive embezzlement of billions of rupees in price fixing mechanisms for petroleum products in local markets since 1999 by the beneficiaries, oil companies, OGRA as well as the Federal Government has been detected“.
(Of course nothing has been done to implement the recommendations of Bhagwandas Commission by the government.)
That an attempt to buy Bhagwandas was ‘on’ became apparent a few days back when Justice Bhagwandas himself revealed offers were being made to have him appointed Chairman, Federal Public Service Commission (FPSC). Though he said he had not rejected the offer, he did point out to those offering him the job that he was barred from accepting any position as per constitution (clause 2 of Article 207 of the Constitution placed a bar on retired Supreme Court and high court judges to accept an office of profit till the expiration of two years from their retirement, and Justice Bhagwandas would not complete that term until Dec 14, 2009, as he himself stated.)
Now imagine my surprise when I opened the paper today and saw this headline glaring at me on the front page:
Yes, Bhagwandas — excuse me for not using the title ‘Justice’ — has accepted the job and as his first act visited the Presidency Mandir to get the ashirwat of Bhuwan Zardari. Yes, we are still weeks away from Dec 14, 2009 so wonder what happened to that ‘clause 2 of Article 207 of the Constitution’?
Also note that the position of the chief of FPSC is today a neutered one, thanks to Bhagwan Zardari and Devi Gilani, so Bhagwandas will just be a figurehead, giving an aura of legitimacy to appointments that will not be based on merit but will be strictly ‘political promotions’.
I am just surprised Bhagwandas sold so cheaply.
Side note: Regarding that Bank of Punjab case, CJ Iftikhar is certainly appearing compromised and letting crooks off the hook. More on that soon….