ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Wednesday dismissed a petition seeking the appointment of chief secretaries from within their respective provincial service, observing that since this matter is related to the jurisdiction of the provinces, the Supreme Court would be the relevant forum for the petitioners.

The All-Pakistan Provincial Management Service (PMS) Association, which consists of office-bearers of PMS associations from all four provinces, has challenged the federal government’s powers to appoint provincial chief secretaries.

The petitioners contended that they were aggrieved by the impugned notifications whereby the federal government, without lawful authority, made appointments to the posts of the top bureaucrat in every province.

The petition has been filed through Barrister Umer Gillani by All-Pakistan Provincial Civil Services Association coordinator and Punjab PMS Association president Tariq Mehmood Awan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa PMS Officers’ Association Coordinator Fahad Ikram Qazi, Balochistan Provincial Civil Service Officers’ Association Coordinator Mohammad Taqi Ramzan and Sindh PMS Officers’ Association President Dr Shahnawaz Merani.

IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah heard the petition. He observed that admittedly the petitioners had raised their grievances before the respective provincial governments, but the latter do not appear to be aggrieved because none of them have approached the competent forums established under the Constitution for resolving disputes between a provincial government and the federal government.

SC would be relevant forum since matter is related to jurisdiction of provinces, court observes

“There are various forums provided under the Constitution, such as the Council of Common Interest, which affords an opportunity to the provincial governments to raise their grievances. There are informal means for settling disputes among the governments,” the court observed, adding: “It is obvious that the framers of the Constitution have prescribed a constitutional mechanism for settling disputes between two or more governments. If disputes cannot be resolved through formal or informal forums, then the forum for adjudication is the apex court.”

“Thus a high court is not competent to entertain a matter having the characteristics of a dispute between two or more governments. As a corollary, only a government would be eligible to be treated as an aggrieved person for raising a dispute of such nature,” Justice Minallah said.

While dismissing the petition, he held: “In view of the above discussion, the petitioners are not competent to indirectly raise a grievance which has the characteristics of a dispute between two or more governments. Moreover, such a grievance can only be raised by one of the provincial governments and that too by invoking the exclusive jurisdiction of the august Supreme Court under Article 184(1) of the Constitution.”

Published in Dawn, July 30th, 2020