Islamabad High Court building.—File Photo
ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) declared on Wednesday that the appointment of Ali Arshad Hakeem as chairman of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) was illegal and ordered the government to appoint a suitable person to the post by June 30.
Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui had reserved judgment on a challenge to the appointment by Ashfaq Ahmed, a grade 19 officer of the FBR.
On April 8 the court suspended the notification of the appointment and the government assigned the charge of acting chairman to Ansar Javed.
The PPP government had appointed Mr Hakeem as FBR chairman on July 10 last year. He had earlier served as chairman of the National Database and Registration Authority on contract. Mr Hakeem was also given the charge of revenue secretary.
The IHC also set aside the notification for the additional charge.
Justice Siddiqui said in his order that the appointment had been made without any competitive process. He said he “totally failed to understand how the qualification, experience, eminence and performance of an individual can be gauged without inviting others to compete” for appointment to such an important and sensitive post.
Barrister Zafarullah Khan, the petitioner’s counsel, had informed the court that the government had relaxed at least 10 essential requirements for the appointment. The post was not advertised and the candidature was not examined by a selection committee.
He said the summary for the appointment had not been moved in accordance with the law. He said several senior officers were eligible for the post but they had not been considered.
Mr Hakeem’s counsel Ashtar Ausaf had contended that the IHC lacked jurisdiction over the matter and the Federal Services Tribunal was the right forum for hearing such a petition.
He said there was no prescribed criterion for appointment of FBR chairman and the court could not examine the allegations in the absence of a set procedure.
He admitted that the vacancy had not been advertised in the press.
He claimed that the petition was not maintainable because the petitioner was not an aggrieved person and none of his rights had been infringed because of the appointment.