PESHAWAR: Peshawar High Court on Wednesday declared as illegal the removal of MPA Khushdil Khan as chairman of Standing Committee on Agriculture and Livestock of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly and replacing him with a member of the ruling party, Arbab Jehandad, by the assembly speaker.

The bench of PHC Chief Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth and Justice Abdul Shakoor accepted a writ petition filed by Khushdil Khan, the deputy parliamentary leader of Awami National Party, challenging his removal as chairman and member of the said committee by the speaker.

The petitioner has challenged a notification issued by the speaker on January 7 through which an earlier notification was modified to the extent of the petitioner and his name was removed as chairman and was replaced with Arbab Jehandad of PTI.

The petitioner appeared in person and contended that the procedure and conduct of business in the provincial assembly were being regulated under the rules called “Provincial Assembly of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Procedure and Conduct of Business Rules, 1988”.

Khushdil Khan of ANP was replaced with Arbab Jehandad of PTI as head of committee on agriculture

He stated that under Rule 154, each committee consisting of not more than nine members should be elected by the assembly and one of its members should be elected by the members as its chairman in view of Sub Rule 2 of the Rule 154.

However, he said that the exercise was further curtailed by giving special power to the assembly speaker under Rule 193, thereby on the resolution moved by any member the assembly empowered the speaker to constitute committees without holding elections, keeping in view the educational qualifications and experience of the members.

The MPA contended that under Rule 193, the speaker was empowered to constitute the committees, which he did accordingly and notified standing committees for each department of government on respective dates.

The petitioner stated that the Standing Committee No.05 on Agriculture, Fisheries, Livestock and Cooperation Department was constituted and the petitioner was appointed its chairman, notified on December 6, 2018.

He added that the petitioner being the chairman of the said committee had summoned its meeting on January 9 and in that regard agenda was also issued to all members on January 1, 2019.

Without assigning any reason, he said, the speaker issued the impugned notification on January 7 through which the petitioner was replaced with Arbab Jehandad.

The petitioner said that he was condemned unheard and impugned notification was passed at his back without any notice and thus the order was in violation of principle of natural justice.

He said that that the appointment of petitioner as chairman of the committee was made on merit in view of his qualification and experience being senior parliamentarian and former deputy speaker of the assembly.

He said that once the petitioner was appointed chairman of the committee, the speaker had no authority to replace him with any other member of the assembly.

Published in Dawn, May 30th, 2019