ISLAMABAD, June 17: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday suspended the warrants issued by Federal Tax Ombudsman Dr Shoaib Suddle for the arrest of Buland Akhtar Rana, the auditor general of Pakistan (AGP).
It may be recalled that in January this year, the AGP objected to the payment of special judicial allowance to the FTO, saying that only the Supreme Court judges and their staff were entitled to it.
When the payment of the allowance was stopped the next month, the FTO issued contempt notice to the AGP on March 8. And after the AGP did not appear before the FTO, the latter issued warrants for his arrest.
The AGP filed an appeal with the IHC and on May 25 Chief Justice Mohammad Anwar Khan Kasi dismissed it, saying “there is no force” in the petition.
The AGP filed an intra-court appeal with the court earlier this month. On June 13, a division bench, comprising Justice Riaz Ahmed Khan and Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui, differed whether to suspend the warrants or not. Justice Khan was in favour of suspending the warrants while Justice Siddiqui expressed his dissention.
As a result, the matter was referred to Justice Noorul Haq N. Qureshi to decide it as a referee judge.
On Monday, Justice Qureshi while suspending the warrants also issued notice to Dr Suddle and referred the intra-court appeal of the AGP back to the IHC division bench.
Advocate Saeed Khursheed, the counsel for the auditor general of Pakistan (AGP), contented before the IHC bench that as per a notification of the law and justice division, only the Supreme Court judges and their staff were entitled to the special judicial allowance.
He said the FTO did not fall in this category, therefore, the AG office had recommended to the controller general of accounts to stop the allowance to the ombudsman in January this year.
This was something unexpected for the FTO and he issued contempt notices to the petitioners on March 8, 2013, under section 16 of the Federal Tax Ombudsman Ordinance 2000, he added.
He told the court that according to section 4 of the Establishment of Federal Tax Ombudsman Ordinance 2000, Dr Suddle’s un-extendable four-year tenure of service as the federal tax ombudsman had expired on June 6, 2013, but even then he had illegally issued impugned warrants for the arrest of the AGP.
He said the AGP office audit objection regarding the payment of special judicial allowance to the FTO was based on a notification dated March 3, 2010, whereas the FTO was claiming the allowance on the basis of another notification issued on 13 June 2009 as described in the contempt of court notice he issued to the AGP on March 8, 2013.
He claimed that under the constitution, the AGP office can raise such an objection during the certification of accounts.
According to him, the matter of stoppage of the special judicial allowance involved terms of service of public servants which could be taken up with the Federal Service Tribunal, as according to section 27 of the FTO Ordinance 2000, the FTO was a civil servant.
Earlier, Asif Vardag, the counsel for Shoaib Suddle, informed the court that the AGP had also wanted his entitlement for the special judicial allowance but his request was turned down by the authorities concerned.
After this, the AGP started a campaign against those who were drawing the allowance for long.
He claimed that the AGP had also started leaking information to the media to defame the FTO.
Through the media trial, the AGP tried to lower the dignity of the FTO office for which Dr Suddle initiated contempt proceedings against him and after repeated absence of the AGP, issued the arrest warrants to procure his (AGP) attendance in the court.