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CII chief’s appointment challenged in court

Updated June 17, 2016


ISLAMABAD: The appointment of Maulana Mohammad Khan Sheerani as chairman of the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) was challenged in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Thursday.

After a preliminary hearing, IHC Justice Aamer Farooq issued a notice to the state, seeking a reply within 10 days.

The president appointed Maulana Sheerani as CII chairmnan in 2013. He is also an elected member of the National Assembly from NA-264 (Zhob-cum-Sheerani-cum-Killa Saifullah) in Balochistan.

The petitioner, Moeen Hayat Cheema, teaches law at the Lahore University of Management Sciences and has filed the petition through his counsel, Mirza Shahzad Akbar.

Petitioner claims Sheerani does not meet requirements for post; cannot head govt-controlled body while serving as MNA

The petition says that an MNA stands disqualified if he is in service of any other government organisation in addition to his membership of the National Assembly.

It argues that since the CII is a government-controlled body, Sheerani could not have been validly appointed as he was already an MNA when he was appointed its chairman.

The CII is a constitutional institution with a mandate to advise legislatures on whether or not laws are Sharia-compliant. The CII has been used to make political appointments and provide perks and privileges to members of a minor party in successive coalition governments. The appointment of the current CII chairman is especially problematic as he lacks the necessary credentials to occupy such a constitutional office and during whose tenure the institution has been rendered an embarrassment to the Constitution and to Islam, the petition said.

The petition contended that Sheerani’s appointment was illegal and against the Constitution, since he did not meet the educational and professional requirements for the chairmanship of a public body like the CII. It is clearly stated in the Constitution that all CII members must possess an understanding of the principles and philosophy of Islam or an understanding of the economic, political or legal problems of Pakistan.

The petition cites Supreme Court precedent, which states that the discretion given to the president for the appointment of chairpersons of public bodies is not unfettered and must be exercised judiciously. The case law clearly states that appointees to such important offices must be competent and must possess requisite qualifications.

Sheerani has never received a university education, possesses no legal training and has no publications on Islamic jurisprudence to his name.

His education, as listed on his public profile, only includes education at madrassahs including Mataul Uloom Quetta and Meerajul Uloom Bannu.

The petition further contends that Sheerani’s appointment was in fact a political move by the PML-N government to appease the JUI-F. No consideration was given to whether Sheerani was suitable for the merit based post.

The petition requests the court to declare the appointment of Maulana Sheerani as void ab initio or invalid from the beginning.

The petition against the CII chief was filed at a time when the council is being criticised for allowing a husband to “lightly” beat his wife “if needed” and prohibits mixing of the genders in schools, hospitals and offices.

The CII’s proposed bill for the ‘protection of women’ claims women will have all the rights given to them under Shariah, prohibits interaction between namehram men and women at recreational places and offices, and bans “dance, music and sculptures created in the name of art”.

Published in Dawn, June 17th, 2016