ISLAMABAD: A division bench of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Wednesday turned down a federal government’s request for suspending the judgement that had reinstated the chairperson and members of the Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP).

The federal government has filed an intra-court appeal against the decision of the IHC single-member bench that had set aside the termination of the services of the chairperson and members of the CCP.

CCP chairperson Vadiyya Khalil and members Dr Mohammad Saleem and Shahzad Ansar have challenged their removal by the government.

On Oct 15, 2018, the federal government had ordered removal of the CCP chairperson and members. The order was issued after a summary moved by the finance division stated that their appointment was not approved by the federal cabinet and, therefore, it could not be claimed that the decision was made by the federal government as defined by the Supreme Court in the Mustafa Impex case according to which the prime minister could not issue any order without approval of the cabinet.

It was stated that the appointment was made by the finance minister in consultation with the prime minister and was thus illegal.

Appointment of CCP chairperson, members is illegal, argues law officer

Deputy Attorney General Khawaja Imtiaz appeared before the court and argued that the apex court had in the Mustafa Impex case passed a ruling on the powers of the prime minister according to which the appointment at the senior most positions of the CCP were illegal.

He requested the court to set aside or suspend the judgement of IHC’s single-member bench to restore termination orders of the chairperson and members of the CCP.

The court declined the request and adjourned the hearing till April 13.

Earlier, the counsel for Ms Khalil had argued before the single-member bench that the government had authorised the finance minister and the prime minister through the decisions made on Nov 2, 2016 and Feb 7, 2017 to appoint heads of statutory bodies. This authorisation did not amount to delegation of power but was rather permission to select the appointees for the federal government, which retained the power to appoint.

He also argued that even if this authorisation was termed delegation of power, the same was permissible under the Competition Act as the law allowed the federal government to prescribe the mode and manner of appointment of the members of the CCP, thus allowing it to delegate its power to appoint any subordinate functionaries.

He said that the finance division had in its summary dated Sept 27, 2018 stated that the performance of the chairperson and members of the CCP was satisfactory and the government should regularise their appointments.

Published in Dawn, April 9th, 2020