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ISLAMABAD: The Capital Development Authority (CDA) has refused the services of a new chief legal adviser appointed unilaterally by the law ministry, saying that no such office exists in the authority.

With the approval of Member Administration Yasir Pirzada, the authority’s legal wing reported to the Capital Administration and Development Division (CADD) that there was no post for a chief legal adviser in the CDA.

The Ministry of Law had on Jan 15 notified the appointment of lawyer Hafiz Hifzur Rehman Syed, the son of a friend of Barrister Zafarullah Khan, the special assistant to the prime minister on law, as the CDA’s chief legal adviser, who would supervise the organisation’s entire legal department.

The appointment itself contradicted a June 3, 2015 notification from the law ministry, which stated that only recommendations from those duly approved by concerned departments and organisations would be considered by the committee in the search for a legal adviser.

No such designation exists in CDA, authority tells CADD

The CDA had never requested any appointment in this case, as the performance of its legal wing had improved significantly under the supervision of Legal Adviser Kashif Malik.

CDA Deputy Director General Najma Azhar informed CADD and the member administration in a letter that there was no post for a chief legal adviser in the authority.

The letter also stated: “Nor CDA has forwarded any recommendations regarding the appointment of above advocate as chief legal advisor, which is pre requisite.”

Mr Syed has previously served in the CDA as legal adviser and resigned last year. Following his resignation, Mr Malik was appointed legal adviser, and the CDA’s letter deemed his services satisfactory.

“Due to non availability of the chairman CDA the CDA board is not functioning, therefore, the services of Hafiz Hafz-ur-Rehman as chief legal advisor cannot be considered and not otherwise required by the CDA,” it added

The CDA has won several high-profile court cases and is still involved in others, such as the Grand Hyatt Hotel appeal, the Safa Gold Mall, the Centaurus/Pak Gulf encroachment case, the APCO project being developed on the site of the Margalla Towers and several others related to housing societies and commercial plots worth billions of rupees.

The new legal chief was installed by the law ministry seemingly out-of-the-blue and unilaterally, since the CDA had not requested such an appointment. Officials from the authority said the new development had demoralised the legal wing, because it gave an impression that the government was not satisfied with the department’s performance.

CDA spokesperson Malik Saleem, when contacted, also said the CDA had never requested this appointment from the ministry.

“I cannot comment further, as we have mentioned our point of view in a letter,” he said.

On Tuesday, Mr Rehman had told Dawn that the CDA was having difficulty handling its legal matters, and his appointment was made to clear the backlog of files stuck on tables. He denied that there was any favouritism in his appointment, saying it was made “purely on merit”.

Published in Dawn, January 18th, 2018