Appointments in IHC: Supreme Court seeks reply from attorney general

Supreme Court building in Islamabad. PHOTO: AFP

Supreme Court building in Islamabad. PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD: The country’s top court has issued notice to government’s top lawyer again seeking his views on a plea against the alleged illegal appointments in the Islamabad High Court (IHC).

A three-judge bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Chief Justice Nasirul Mulk, took up the petition, filed by IHC Bar Association’s former vice-president Chaudhry Muhammad Akram after the passage of over seven months.

The petitioner through his counsel Arif Chaudhry has moved the apex court to declare the appointments illegal and order initiation of legal proceedings against those involved in the appointments.

The petitioner’s counsel informed the bench that IHC’s administration has already submitted its reply in the high court. But the bench told him that AG’s presence is necessary for the court’s assistance and adjourned the hearing until October 2.

On February 6, the court had sought reply from IHC registrar on the plea.

The court’s administration has admitted that 19 out of the 73 appointments were made by relaxing rules.

“Total strength of high court is more than 400, therefore, 19 appointments made in relaxation of rules is not a big figure to be highlighted by anyone”, the reply says.

The petitioner has claimed that after the re-establishment of the IHC in 2010, not a single official has been appointed on merit and a number of appointments have been made by relaxing rules, including absorption of deputationists in much higher scales than they held in their parent departments.

The registrar in his 21-page reply has stated that the IHC chief justice is competent to make any appointment by relaxing the rules. Therefore, the actions taken by him are quit lawful and cannot be challenged.

Justifying the 73 appointments, he submitted that due to the pendency of cases, the number of judges was increased from 3 to 5 as the normal procedure for recruitment consumed months and judicial and official work was also likely to suffer irreparably.

Keeping in view a number of factors in mind, former chief justice had opted to fill 19 posts by relaxing the rules; 10 deputationists were absorbed in accordance with rules, 30 are class-IV employees, for whom no written test was required and such posts are always to be filled in subject to the suitability of the candidates to the posts, the reply said.

The registrar contended that the petition has been filed with mala-fide intention as the petitioner is not an aggrieved person and he has no locus standi at all to file the instant petition or agitate an issue which has already been attained finality and was a past and closed transaction.

The IHC’s administration has requested the top court to dismiss this petition with exemplary costs as it is not maintainable under Article 184 (3) of the constitution.

It is objected that the petition has been filed on the basis of a purported Internal Audit Report of IHC and the copy of the report was obtained by the petitioner in an unlawful manner. The internal audit report was prepared in violation of the provision of General Financial Rules (GFR).

“After completion of the Internal check, a committee was formed under the chairmanship of IHC’s senior most judge Justice Riaz Ahmad Khan to ascertain the validity of the Paras created during internal check. The said committee convened its meeting where all the Paras were discussed and settled as per law. It is worth mentioning that this exercise absolutely falls in house of the Islamabad High Court and has nothing do with any other government agency”

The reply further says that the committee’s report is in field and authenticity of the same has not been challenged by anyone, therefore, it has attained finality.

The registrar rejected the notion that not a single appointment was made on merit, adding that in recent past, 60 appointments were made through National Testing Service.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 25th, 2014.

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