ISLAMABAD: A senate standing committee on Friday recommended new legislation for the appointment of the Capital Development Authority’s (CDA) chairman.

The Senate Standing Committee on Interior, which met with Senator Rehman Malik in the chair, discussed in detail the procedure being adopted by the government for the appointment of a CDA chairman.

The committee recommended that parliament should do necessary legislation for making the appointment and that the Islamabad High Court (IHC) may be informed accordingly.

As per IHC judgement, a government servant cannot hold the office of CDA chairman and the new chairman has to be appointed after a competitive process.

Following the court orders, the federal cabinet a couple of months ago also decided to appoint a new CDA chairman after adopting a competitive process. The interior ministry is currently working on finalising the qualification to advertise the post.

However, the senate body said new legislation should be made for appointing the CDA head as according to the existing CDA Ordinance 1960, a civil servant cannot be appointed by the federal government.

In Dec 2017, IHC Justice Athar Minallah had ruled that civil servants cannot be appointed members or chairpersons of the CDA.

The IHC judge announced the judgement in a case related to the appointment of Mayor Sheikh Anser Aziz, who was first made an acting member and then chairman of the CDA.

The court removed Mr Aziz as chairman and directed the civic agency to appoint a new head in 45 days. The court also ruled that after the completion of the tenure of the then members, if they were hired in violation of Article 6 of the CDA Ordinance, new appointments should be made.

However, instead of filing an appeal against the IHC judgement, the previous PML-N government had decided to make an amendment to the CDA Ordinance 1960 to appoint civil servants only on the posts of the chairman and member finance.

The then cabinet led by Shahid Khaqan Abbasi approved the amendment and a presidential ordinance was promulgated. When the ordinance was to expire, the then federal minister for Capital Administration and Development Division (CADD) Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry in May last year got a resolution passed from parliament, providing a new life of 120 days to the presidential ordinance, which expired last year.

The Imran Khan-led cabinet also decided that as per IHC ruling, a professional will be appointed the new chairman.

Justice Athar Minallah on Dec 9 had ruled: “The appointment of a civil servant as member was definitely in violation of clause (f) of section 8 [of the ordinance] and an illegality committed for a long time in the past... Moreover, the appointment of a member cannot be made in violation of the principles and law enunciated in the case of statutory regulatory entities, intended by the legislature to be independent and autonomous.”

“It was an obvious legislative intent and implicit in the scheme of the ordinance of 1960 that qualified and competent persons of integrity having expertise in the relevant fields were to be appointed as members of the [CDA] board,” the verdict reads.

Published in Dawn, February 23rd, 2019