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PESHAWAR: A Peshawar High Court bench on Thursday issued notices to the court’s chief justice through his principal staff officer, its administrative committee and provincial government in a petition challenging the appointment of the court’s registrar and additional registrar from the bureaucracy.

Justice Ikramullah Khan and Justice Mohammad Ayub Khan issued the order after hearing the preliminary arguments of the petitioner, advocate Ali Azim Afridi, who contended that the appointments of bureaucrats to the two posts were a violation of the Constitutional provision guaranteeing the separation of judiciary from the executive.

The petitioner requested the court to declare the amendments made in the relevant rules last year to allow the appointment of a civil servant of the provincial or federal government as registrar and additional registrar (administration) unconstitutional.

He prayed the court that the appointment of the high court’s registrar, Mohammad Saleem Khan (BPS-20), and additional registrar (administration) Zakaullah Khattak (BPS-19) through a notification on February 1, 2017, as void and without any lawful authority.

The petitioner said the two appointments impinged upon the notion of the independence of judiciary.

He prayed that the administrative committee of the high court be tried for committing the contempt of court as it had violated the Supreme Court judgments on the matter.

The bench asked him how a notice could be issued to the high court’s chief justice and administrative committee comprising senior judges under Article 199 of the Constitution.

The petitioner cited the judgments of the superior courts in support of his contention saying the judges of the court could be put on notice.

He said the PHC Ministerial Establishment (Appointment and Conditions of Service) Rules were framed in 1989.

Mr Ali Azim said after those rules were enforced, the appointment of the registrar should be made by the transfer of a district and sessions judge and the additional registrar either by the transfer of an additional district and sessions judge or by promotion on merit.

He said the purpose behind appointment of a serving district judge as the PHC registrar was obvious keeping at sight the role, duties and functions connected with the office of the registrar serving in the establishment of high court, having much to do with the affairs of district judiciary.

The petitioner said the rules of 1989 were amended through a notification on Jan 27, 2017, restructuring the ways of appointment of registrar and additional registrar (administration), just to benefit a class of like-minded individuals in the bureaucracy.

He claimed that even the stated rules nowhere provide for appointment of a person serving in BPS-19 or 20 against the post of registrar (BPS-22) and additional registrar (BPS-21), but the competent authority (administrative committee) appointed the said two officers.

The respondents in the petition are Mohammad Saleem Khan (registrar), Zakaullah Khattak (additional registrar), the high court administrative committee through the registrar, the PHC chief justice through principal staff officer, provincial government through the law secretary and the Supreme Judicial Council.

Published in Dawn, March 9th, 2018