ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar on Wednesday observed that courts would always interfere if and when government appointments were made on the basis of “nepotism”.

The observation came when a three-judge Supreme Court bench took up a petition jointly moved by lawyers Muhammad Adil Chattha and Mirza Abdul Moiz Baig, arguing that Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resources Development Syed Zulfikar Abbas Bukhari — popularly known as Zulfi Bukhari — should be disqualified for office under Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution dealing with qualifications and disqualifications of elected members.

The hearing was postponed till Dec 24 due to the absence of the petitioners’ lawyer, who is currently abroad for medical treatment.

Petitioners ask apex court to restrain Zulfi Bukhari from working as aide to PM

The petitioners requested the court to restrain Zulfi Bukhari from working as PM’s assistant by declaring the Sept 14 notification as illegal.

During the hearing, the chief justice also reacted strongly to Prime Minister Imran Khan’s statement about the Supreme Court’s remarks in the Zulfi Bukhari case.

The prime minister had in an interview to different anchorpersons said the remarks were ‘regrettable’.

“It is the job of the Supreme Court to examine the administrative decisions taken by the executive,” the chief justice observed.

In his reply to the petition, Zulfi Bukhari contended that he held British nationality because he was born there and got Pakistani citizenship later. Mr Bukhari got his secondary education from a private school in Islamabad, where he studied from the age of 13 to 18. His family hailed from Attock, the reply said.

The prime minister, Mr Bukhari said in his reply, had the right to appoint anyone as his aide, adding that Articles 62 and 63 were only applicable to members of parliament and he was not a lawmaker.

Mr Bukhari argued that if Pakistan could seek aid from international organisations like the International Monetary Fund, why it could not employ the services of Pakistanis holding dual nationality.

The petition contended that it was imperative to appoint individuals to high office whose antecedents should be known and who maintained the highest standards of integrity.

It highlighted that the prime minister’s discretion to appoint special assistant was subject to the general scheme of the Constitution, including Articles 2A, 4, 5, 62 and 63.

In the 2018 Zulfikar Bhutta case, the Supreme Court has held that the chosen representatives of the people while exercising powers and authority of the state ought to exercise the sovereignty of Almighty Allah as His delegates by way of a sacred trust.

“Faithful adherence to the provisions of Article 62 of the Constitution provides a recipe for cleansing the fountain heads of the state from persons who suffer from character flaws, openly violate the injunctions of Islam, lack adequate knowledge of Islamic teachings, do not practice obligatory duties prescribed by Islam, do not abstain from major sins, not sagacious, righteous, non-profligate, honest and ameen or convicted crimes involving moral turpitude or giving false evidence or have worked against the integrity of the country or opposed the ideology of Pakistan,” the petition said.

Published in Dawn, December 6th, 2018