ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of Law and Justice is at loggerheads with the Capital Development Authority (CDA) over the appointment of a known activist of the ruling PTI as a legal adviser of the civic agency.

In contradiction to its own policy, the law ministry recommended the name of Shahid Naseem Tahir Gondal for the post of CDA legal adviser but also rejected the summary moved by the civic agency containing the names of three eminent lawyers for the same position.

Earlier this month, CDA had forwarded a summary to the law ministry, seeking the “appointment of a legal adviser in the CDA”.

The names proposed include that of Mohammad Munir Paracha, Afnan Karim Kundi and Barrister Rehan Seerat.

Law ministry rejected civic agency’s nominees, violated own policy by recommending candidate

Mr Gondal is known as a PTI activist and has represented senior PTI leaders including incumbent Prime Minister Imran Khan in the Election Commission of Pakistan, the Anti Terrorism Court of Islamabad and the Islamabad High Court as an associate lawyer in a number of cases.

He also contested the 2018 general elections for the provincial assembly from Mandi Bahauddin on a PTI ticket.

According to the “Policy/Guidelines for nominations/recommendations for appointment of legal advisors and engagement/placement of advocates on the panel of advocates of various departments” dated June 3, 2015, “in terms of the clause (g) of sub-rule (1) of rule 14 of the Rules of Business, 1973, only the recommendations/nominations shall be considered by the “committee for selection of legal advisor/panel advocates which are duly recommended by the concerned departments/organizations/corporations.”

When contacted, a law ministry spokesperson said: “The Law Division is very clear that as per law, the legal adviser is to be appointed by CDA and not by the Law Division. The later only extends its advice as a consultant and in this regard, such consultation has to be affected strictly in terms of paradigms spelt out in the Al-Jehad Trust case decided by the Supreme Court in 1996”.

As per the stance of the law ministry, “under the Rules of Business, 1973,Shahid Naseem Tahir Gondal was recommended by the attorney- general twice and on both occasions the CDA did not follow the standards specified in the Al-Jehad Trust case but rather unilaterally recommended its own names, completely ignoring the Al-Jehad Trust case principle. Under the Rules of Business, 1973 there is no requirement that a consultee may only agree to the names given by the CDA; the attorney-general can also recommend names found to be fit by himself.”

Former CDA legal adviser Mohammad Ramzan Chaudhry said the law ministry should at least follow its own policy.

He said if there was any objections regarding the nominees should have been conveyed to the CDA so the civic agency could have amended the summary and changed the names accordingly.

He said it is unfortunate that the law ministry is not honouring its own policy and imposing its own nomination on the civic agency.

“The ministry should have amended the policy if it wanted to make the appointment this way,” he said.

CDA is currently in the process of filing a review petition against the restoration of the lease of the multi-billion rupee Grand Hyatt plot and the civic agency is also under pressure to regularise unauthorised structures in Banigala.

Prime Minister Imran Khan owns a luxury serviced apartment in Grand Hyatt and is also a beneficiary of the regularisation of Banigala since he has a residence there.

Published in Dawn, February 21st, 2019

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