THIS is apropos the news report ( Aug 8). Subsequent to the nomination of Justice (r) Rana Bhagwandas as chairman of the NAB by the leader of opposition, a debate has ensued regarding his eligibility for appointment in view of Section 5 of the Federal Public Service Commission Ordinance 1977, promulgated by the martial law regime of Gen Ziaul Haq, which reads as:
“Ineligibility for further employment: On ceasing to hold office, a member shall not be eligible for further employment in the service of Pakistan.”
As Bhagwandas has served as chairman of the FPSC, this section debars him from assuming any other position.
But, as Bhagwandas enjoys extremely high reputation as a judge since 1967 when he started his career in the judiciary as a civil judge till his attaining the peak of his career as an acting Chief Justice of Pakistan in 2007, many demanded to amend Section 5 of the FPSC Ordinance to remove the bar.
Perhaps the government and the opposition are considering this option quite seriously. On the other hand, there are certain sections, including the PTI, which though hold Bhagwandas in high esteem are not in favour of amending the relevant section of the ordinance.
I have the privilege of knowing Rana Bhagwandas for a quite some time and have worked with him on the Selection Board of Sindh Madressatul Islam University, where he serves as a member. He is an extraordinary son of Pakistan, whom I shall place in the category of Abdul Sattar Edhi, Dr Adibul Hassan Rizvi and Justice A.R. Cornelius. The greatest example of his selflessness and high standards of integrity came to light when in 2007 he, as acting chief justice of Pakistan, paved the way for restoration of Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry. In this, neither the lure of his getting the position of CJP nor the pressures of the then civil-military dispensation could influence him.
Regarding amending the FPSC Ordinance to remove the bar, I feel that it should be done without any delay as the relevant section is discriminatory. When there is no bar on a general, justice, bureaucrat or any political office-holder, who enjoys greater power and opportunities of rewarding people of their choice than members and chairpersons of the FPSC, why should they be discriminated?
Here, it should be remembered that the laws are not static and go through an evolutionary process in accordance with the needs and aspirations of society. The FPSC Ordinance, promulgated by a dictator, neither was nor is sacrosanct, which cannot be amended. In fact, it has been amended several times: the last being a few years back when the tenure of the chairman and members of the FPSC was reduced from five to three years.
It will be a pity if this illustrious son of Pakistan could not be considered for the position because a dictator had placed a discriminatory bar some four decades ago.
DR MUHAMMAD ALI SHAIKH
Sindh Madressatul Islam University