IHC suspends govt order to sack KPT chief

Updated 28 Mar 2020

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Jamil was appointed in November 2017 for three years. — Dawn/File
Jamil was appointed in November 2017 for three years. — Dawn/File

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Friday suspended the federal government’s order terminating services of retired Rear Admiral Jamil Akhtar as chairman of the Karachi Port Trust (KPT) and sought a reply from the federal government on his petition by April 2.

The retired rear admiral was appointed the chairman of KPT by the previous government on Nov 23, 2017 for three years, but the federal government removed him from the post on March 25, citing different reasons.

According to a notification issued by the Establishment Division on March 25, the federal government removed Mr Akhtar from the post “forthwith by modifying/reducing his period of initial appointment in terms of Section 11 of the KPT Act, 1886, with immediate effect”.

Later, another notification of the division said that “the federal government is pleased to assign additional charge of the post of the chairman of the Karachi Port Trust (KPT) to Mr Shakeel Mangnejo (BS-21), Director General of Ports and Shipping, Karachi, under the Ministry of Maritime Affairs, for a period of three months”.

However, a notification issued by the Ministry of Maritime Affairs stated that Mr Akhtar had been removed from the office of the chairman of the KPT with immediate effect because of “irregularities in the KPT”.

Jamil was appointed in November 2017 for three years

In the same notification, the ministry directed Mr Mangnejo to assume the additional charge of the KPT chairman in accordance with the notification issued by the Establishment Division.

Another notification related to the issue stated that the “federal government, in exercise of the powers conferred under Section 11 of the KPT Act, 1886, has been pleased to remove (retired) Rear Admiral Jamil Akhtar HI (M) from the post of chairman KPT forthwith”.

Before Islamabad High Court Chief Justice Athar Minallah, the counsel for Mr Akhtar argued that the petitioner had been appointed the KPT chairman and, by virtue of his office, he had also been one of the trustees of the trust.

He further stated that without placing the matter before the federal cabinet, the federal government had issued the impugned notification of March 25 and that, too, by misinterpreting the Section 11 read with Section 15 and 15(A) of the Karachi Port Trust Act, 1886.

The counsel for the petitioner further stated that once a trustee or the chairman was appointed, then his removal could only be made on the grounds clearly written in the above-mentioned sections of the KPT Act.

The court issued notices to the federal government and the KPT and sought a report from them within a fortnight.

The court also ordered the registrar’s office to issue a notice to the attorney general for assistance of the court in the matter.

“Till the next date fixed, the operation of the impugned notification, dated March 25, 2020, shall remain suspended,” the court ruled.

Further hearing of the case was adjourned till April 2.

Published in Dawn, March 28th, 2020