PML-N govt changed criteria to appoint favourite as Nadra chief, IHC told

Updated 14 Aug 2020

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Under the new criteria, Usman Yousaf Mobin secured the highest (55) marks and his name was placed on top of the merit list, said petitioner. — Dawn/File
Under the new criteria, Usman Yousaf Mobin secured the highest (55) marks and his name was placed on top of the merit list, said petitioner. — Dawn/File

ISLAMABAD: Previous government of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) changed the prescribed criteria in order to appoint Usman Yousaf Mobin as chairman of the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra).

This was asserted on Thursday during a hearing of the Islamabad High Court on the petitions filed by unsuccessful candidates who were vying for the coveted position in January 2018.

Hafiz Arafat Ahmed, the counsel for the petitioners, produced the documents relating to the “original” selection criteria for the post of Nadra chairman.

According to these documents, 15 marks were to be set aside for a PhD degree and 12 and nine marks for a master’s degree from foreign and local universities, respectively. Moreover, 40 marks were reserved for experience in the relevant field.

Under these criteria, Mr Mobin could secure only 30 marks and his name was placed on the fifth position on the merit list, said the petitioners’ counsel. On the first position was Zia Nadir, with 36 marks.

Deputy attorney general says appointment was made keeping in mind the criteria set for the post in accordance with law

However, the authorities then changed the criteria, said Mr Ahmed. The marks for a PhD degree were decreased from 15 to five marks while those for a master’s degree were enhanced from 12 to 15 marks. Mr Mobin holds a master’s degree.

Under the new criteria, Mr Mobin secured the highest (55) marks and his name was placed on top of the merit list.

Advocate Ahmed said the authorities changed the other requirements for the job as well, in order to ensure that Mr Mobin was selected at any cost.

He argued that Mr Mobin’s appointment as Nadra chairman was illegal as he was not qualified for the job.

For his part, the counsel for Nadra argued that the appointment was legal as Mr Mobin was qualified and eligible for the post in question.

He told the court that Mr Mobin was appointed after a thorough interview of the selection board. He was more experienced and qualified for the post as compared to the other candidates.

Referring to a judgment of a high court, the Nadra’s counsel argued that the federal cabinet could appoint a candidate to the post of Nadra chairman without any prior advertisement for the position.

In his arguments, he said that Mr Mobin had more experience and qualifications when compared to those mentioned in the advertisements published in the national media for the post. “That was why he was chosen by the scrutiny committee ahead of other candidates.”

The counsel pointed out that Mr Mobin was interviewed by the selection board and his name was approved by the federal cabinet as well.

Representing the federal government, Deputy Attorney General Raja Khalid Mehmood argued that the age limit for the post of Nadra chairman was 55 years while Mr Mobin was 38 years old.

Mr Mehmood said the appointment was made keeping in view the experience and education criteria set for the post in accordance with the law.

Published in Dawn, August 14th, 2020