Islamabad: The Law and Justice Ministry has been hiring services of 615 private counsels, despite having 140 regular law officers at its disposal, incurring millions of rupees expenditure to the national exchequer, in terms of their salaries and other expenses.

As many as 140 law officers are currently working with the AG office, but the ministry has also hired services of 47 lawyers in high profile cases. As per statistics of the law ministry, of the 146 vacancies of law officers approved by the government, at present 140 law officers including six additional attorney generals, 38 deputy attorney generals and 94 standing counsels were working in Attorney General (AG) office.

A budget of more than Rs1.25 billion has been allocated for the AG office for the current financial year. 80 per cent of the budget has been earmarked for salaries and administrative expenses.

The federal government also engaged 47 private lawyers on a hefty fee in high profile cases, including the reopening of the Zulfikar Ali Bhutto case, the NRO implementation case and 18th and 21st constitutional amendment cases.

A source in the law ministry said that services of Khalid Anwar, Babar Awan, Latif Khosa, Kamal Azfar and Masood Chisti were hired for these cases, incurring millions of rupees in terms of fee.

The Supreme Court has already expressed its displeasure over appearance of private lawyers on behalf of federal and provincial governments, in several cases with an observation that why private lawyers were appearing when the government has its own law officers.