SC asks govt to explain Captain Azeem’s appointment

Published November 13, 2015
Court stops short of holding PM in contempt over wilful concealment of facts in aviation adviser’s appointment.—AP/File
Court stops short of holding PM in contempt over wilful concealment of facts in aviation adviser’s appointment.—AP/File

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court came very close on Thursday to issuing notices to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for committing contempt of court. However, the court stopped short of that and preferred, instead, to give the federal government the option of either immediately de-notifying the appointment of Shujaat Azeem as PM’s Special Adviser on Aviation, or explain why they acquired the services of a convicted man.

A three-judge Supreme Court bench, headed by Justice Amir Hani Muslim, also took strong exception to the Shujaat Azeem’s service profile, provided by the federal government to the apex court, which was silent about his court martial when he was in the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) from 1968 to 1979. The summary moved for his appointment as special adviser also omitted the fact.

The court was hearing contempt of court petitions, moved by Mehmood Akhtar Naqvi and the Pakistan Airline Pilots Association (Palpa) general secretary, against the PM for appointing Azeem in contravention of earlier court directions regarding positions equivalent to the status of minister of state.

Capitan Azeem had to resign from the post on July 25, 2013, after he became embroiled in a controversy over his court martial and his dual Pakistani-Canadian nationality.


Court stops short of holding PM in contempt over wilful concealment of facts in aviation adviser’s appointment


He had to appear before a Supreme Court bench, headed by then-Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, which was hearing a matter related to the delay in the construction of the New Benazir Bhutto International Airport at Fatehjang, on the outskirts of Islamabad.

On Thursday, when the Supreme Court hinted that it could issue a notice to the prime minister for contempt, Additional Attorney General Waqar Rana and Deputy Attorney General Sajid Ilyas Bhatti requested the court to grant them time to seek fresh instructions.

The court also noted the absence of Establishment Secretary Nadeem Has­s­an Arif and ordered him to appear in person.

The establishment secretary then rushed to the court and told the bench that the summary for Mr Azeem’s appointment was floated by the cabinet secretary and not routed through the Establishment Division.

The court also took serious notice of the fact that the summary made no mention of Captain Azeem’s court martial, which according to the court, was a fact not in dispute.

This fact was also concealed in his service profile that was submitted by the government, the court said, adding “we have taken serious exception to the manner in which the documents have been submitted before the court”.

DAG Bhatti, however, claimed the documents had been provided by the Aviation Division, but the court did not allow the AAG’s request to withdraw them.

When confronted, Aviation Secr­etary Mohammad Ali Gardezi tendered an apology and regretted the concealment of information. The court, however, declared the mistake a “wilful” one, saying there was no question of regrets.

The Supreme Court postponed further proceedings for Dec 2 at the request of the government’s lawyers. The secretaries for Aviation and Cabinet Division will be in attendance at the next hearing, though the establishment secretary has been excused.

Published in Dawn, November 13th, 2015

Opinion

Editorial

Bad measures
Updated 25 Jul, 2024

Bad measures

They do not seem to have realised that they have put the country’s best interests at risk.
Hamas-Fatah deal
25 Jul, 2024

Hamas-Fatah deal

THE Beijing Declaration signed in the Chinese capital on Tuesday reiterates the need for internal Palestinian unity...
Rating risks
25 Jul, 2024

Rating risks

FINANCE Minister Muhammad Aurangzeb’s recent discussions with the executives of the two top global credit rating...
Reforming militants
24 Jul, 2024

Reforming militants

Such initiatives have been tried before, in Swat for instance, at centres run by the military as well as NGOs.
IPP debate
24 Jul, 2024

IPP debate

A FIERCE debate blaming the exorbitant electricity prices on expensive power purchase agreements with IPPs has been...
Political vendettas
24 Jul, 2024

Political vendettas

IT seems that the PML-N and PPP need to be reminded again that they are doing themselves a considerable disservice ...