IHC reinstates Islamabad mayor suspended by federal govt

Updated May 22, 2020

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Islamabad Mayor Sheikh Anser Aziz was suspended by the PTI government last week. — DawnNewsTV/File
Islamabad Mayor Sheikh Anser Aziz was suspended by the PTI government last week. — DawnNewsTV/File

ISLAMABAD: The Islam­abad High Court (IHC) on Thursday suspended the three-month suspension of Islamabad Mayor Sheikh Anser Aziz and reinstated him to his position until final adjudication of the petition he has filed to seek contempt of court proceedings against the federal government.

Last week, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government suspended Mr Aziz, who belongs to the opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), over corruption charges for 90 days.

Earlier on Feb 17, IHC Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani had issued a restraining order against suspension of the mayor when the federal cabinet was about to suspend him.

On Feb 13, the Local Government Commission, headed by Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Capital Development Authority Affairs Ali Nawaz Awan, had decided to proceed against Mr Aziz over a number of charges.

During the Feb 13 meeting, acting Chief Metropolitan Officer Humayun Akhtar, who is also the CDA member (engineering), had filed a reference with the commission against the mayor.

Mr Awan had recommended the mayor’s suspension for three months until an inquiry was completed into allegations of utilising services of two dozen staff members for personal use and official vehicles beyond his entitlement.

However, the federal cabinet recently suspended Mr Aziz for alleged misappropriation in the award of a contract for the bus stand in G-9.

During Thursday’s hearing, Mr Aziz’s counsel Kashif Ali Malik argued that the government had previously tried to remove him illegally and with mala fide intention, but the court in its Feb 17 order had restrained the government from taking any adverse action against him.

He said that the suspension of the mayor was not on the agenda of last week’s meeting of the commission which was also attended by the mayor. However, after he left the meeting, ecretary of the commission Ali Sufyan hurriedly added the suspension of Mr Aziz to the agenda.

The lawyer said the matter was kept secret and the mayor was not aware of the development.

He argued that the composition of the commission was not in accordance with the spirit of the law. He said that the secretary of the commission was assigned to amend the agenda of the meeting.

The counsel said that the ruling party had already made up its mind and was ready to suspend the mayor but could not do so because of the restraining order of the IHC.

The case was still pending and the court’s injunctive order was still in the field, he said, adding that notwithstanding this, the government had now suspended Mayor Aziz without fulfilling procedural requirements and any legal justification and in violation of the court order.

When the court asked the commission secretary whether Mr Aziz was present when his suspension was added to the agenda and discussed, Mr Sufyan admitted that it was done in the absence of the mayor.

Advocate General of Islamabad Niazullah Niazi said that the government had followed prescribed criteria and completed all formalities before suspending the mayor.

Reacting to the court’s order, PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb said that the court order reminded the PTI’s government about the sanctity of the constitutional posts.

She said that since the PTI had come to power through the RTS system (Result Transmission System which, according to the opposition, was used to manipulate the 2018 election results) it did not bother to care for elected representatives.

Published in Dawn, May 22nd, 2020