IHC suspends notification of Abrar's appointment as Pakistan Red Crescent Society chairman

November 18, 2019

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Singer-turned-politician Abrarul Haq was appointed as PRCS chairman by the president last week. — Photo courtesy Abrarul Haq's Twitter account
Singer-turned-politician Abrarul Haq was appointed as PRCS chairman by the president last week. — Photo courtesy Abrarul Haq's Twitter account

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday suspended a notification issued last week of the appointment of Abrarul Haq as the chairman of the Pakistan Red Crescent Society (PRCS).

IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah was hearing a petition filed by outgoing PRCS Chairman Dr Saeed Elahi against Haq's appointment.

Elahi was appointed by the PML-N government as the PRCS chairman in 2014 and granted an extension for another term in 2017. Last week, he was removed by President Alvi, who is the patron of PRCS.

According to PTI officials, Elahi was removed for openly criticising the government, adding that he had been accused of corruption and nepotism during his two tenures.

Elahi, on the other hand, said that his removal was illegal because he had neither completed his tenure nor was there any cogent reason to remove him from the position.

Elahi had challenged Haq's appointment in the court on November 16 on the grounds of conflict of interest and nepotism. He argued that the appointment of a new chairman is illegal before the completion of his tenure, which ends in March 2020.

He further said that Haq was also in conflict with the organisation's interest as the singer-turned-politician not only runs a hospital and private college but also collects donations for his non-government organisation Sahara Trust. He urged the court to "declare the notification [of Haq's appointment] as void, illegal, unjust, without lawful authority, arbitrary and against the law".

In his petition, Elahi said that under the rules of PRCS, the management body had the power to make appointments. He further said that the chairman of PRCS can only be removed before the completion of the term if they submit their resignation to the president. He added that his removal was also in violation of the fundamental rights provided in the Constitution, according to which "no one can be condemned unheard".

Attorney General Anwar Mansoor, who appeared before the court today even though the court had not issued him a notice, in his arguments said that Elahi had not challenged his removal.

"Two separate notifications were issued to notify the removal and the new appointment. It is surprising that he got the notification of the new appointment but not of his own removal," Mansoor said. "If the president has the authority to make appointments, he also has the authority to remove [employees]."

The court suspended the notification of Haq's appointment and issued notices to President Arif Alvi, secretary cabinet division, secretary national health service and Haq, all of whom have been named as respondents, and demanded a written response. The hearing was adjourned until November 29.