ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court directed Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Khurshid Ahmed Shah on Thursday to appear before it and explain why 238 employees had been appointed in the Employees’ Old-age Benefits Institution (EOBI) during the period between September 2011 and May 2012 despite a court ban on employment.
Mr Shah was federal minister for labour and manpower when the appointments were made in the institution.
Former labour and manpower secretary Arif Azeem is also required to appear before a three-judge SC bench headed by Chief Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali to explain the same through a concise statement. On the court order, bailable warrants of arrest with a surety bond of Rs100,000 has been issued against Azeem whose name will also be placed on the exit control list (ECL).
The bench had taken up a contempt of court case for violating its Jan 21, 2011, order asking then EOBI chairman Zafar Iqbal Gondal and the labour and manpower secretary not to make any appointment pending the case relating to corruption and appointment of 238 employees in EOBI.
The court had decided to initiate contempt proceedings under Article 204 of the Constitution on March 13, 2014, with a direction for the court office to maintain a separate file against those found guilty of violating of its order.
The court was then hearing a case relating to appointments in EOBI in grade-16 to grade-20 in an illegal manner as well as large-scale financial corruption and mismanagement of EOBI funds.
The petitioners had contended that the EOBI funds could not be utilised or invested in contravention and violation of the EOBI Act, 1976 and EOBI (Investment) Rules, 1979. Moreover, the petitioners said, any EOBI funds invested against the spirit of the EOBI act and rules should be disinvested.
Subsequently, the Supreme Court had in its Jan 21, 2011, judgement declared all appointments, deputations and absorptions in EOBI as of no legal effect, thus terminating the services accordingly.
The verdict had also held that all available vacancies in EOBI should be advertised and filled afresh strictly in accordance with applicable rules and regulations.
On Thursday, NAB’s special prosecutor Nasir Moghal told the Supreme Court that Khurshid Shah was minister for labour and manpower from March 31, 2008 to May 2011 and during that period the court order had been violated. Referring to Arif Azeem, the prosecutor said he had informed the secretary that he was required to appear before the court to face contempt charges.
But, he added, the secretary told him that he was on leave and going abroad for a medical check-up and someone will appear before the court on his behalf.
The court decided to issue bailable warrants of arrest against the secretary with a direction to put his name on the ECL and to issue a notice to Khurshid Shah for personal appearance along with a concise statement.
The court will take up the contempt case after Ramazan.
Published in Dawn, June 17th, 2016