ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Television chairman Arshad Khan, six directors of the PTV board and the chief executive officer (CEO) of the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) were sacked by the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Thursday.
After the court order, the ministry of information and broadcasting issued a notification to de-seat Arshad Khan. As per the notification, Information Secretary Akbar Durrani has been given the charge to look after the PTV board till the appointment of a regular chairman.
An IHC bench comprising Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani passed a judgement on the appointments of the PTV chairman and board members while another bench comprising Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb dealt with the DRAP CEO’s appointment case.
Justice Kayani decided petitions related to the appointment of PTV chairman Arshad Khan and independent members of PTV board, Rashid Ali Khan, Zohair Khaliq, Ali Bokhari, Mian Yousaf Salahuddin, Farmanullah Jan and Professor Ijazul Ahsan.
Two benches of IHC pass judgements about removal of officials
Justice Kayani declared the appointment of Arshad Khan as PTV chairman and independent members of the board illegal. Besides, the court observed that Arshad Khan, Rashid Khan, Zohair Khaliq and Farmanullah Jan might not be considered for the same positions again.
However, the judge through a short order validated appointments of Managing Director of the PTV Amir Manzoor, Katrina Hussain as chief of news and current affairs and Khawar Azhar as head of content and marketing.
The lawyers representing the petitioners said that the detailed judgement would explain the legality of their appointments.
The petitioners had requested the court to declare the appointment of Arshad Khan and the PTV board members illegal and in violation of Companies Act 2017 and the Rules of 2013. The petitioners also requested the court to direct the respondents to commence the process of appointment of chairman and director(s) of the PTV board in accordance with the law i.e. Public Sector Companies (Corporate Governance) Rules, 2013.
Justice Aurangzeb dismissed the petition seeking reinstatement of former DRAP CEO Sheikh Akhtar Hussain and also ruled against the appointment of incumbent CEO Asim Rauf.
The court verdict said: “The officer [Asim Rauf] who has been assigned the work of the CEO of DRAP on ‘look after basis’ through notification dated 07.03.2019 cannot exercise powers or perform functions beyond the parameters laid down in the Establishment Division’s O.M. No.8/3/2020-R-3 dated 20.03.2020.”
The court noted that petitioner Sheikh Akhtar had obtained PhD degree from the Open International University of Colombo which was not listed among chartered universities/ institutions of Sri Lanka and that degrees awarded by non-chartered universities/institutions could not be recognised by the Higher Education Commission.
As per facts of the case, on Feb 1, 2018, the position of CEO of the DRAP fell vacant upon completion of three-year tenure of the former CEO. The applicants for the post were required to hold a post-graduate degree in pharmacy or medicine and have 20 years of experience in management or pharmaceutical field or in regulatory affairs in the public sector. If no applicant with the said experience in the public sector was available, then a person having the said qualifications and experience from the private sector was also eligible. The Ministry of National Health Services constituted a four-member committee for scrutinising suitability of the candidates who had applied for appointment to this position. Ten out of the 12 candidates who had been shortlisted appeared for an interview before the interview committee.
The petitioner had participated in the competitive process for appointment and secured highest marks and Asim Rauf was second on the list. The federal cabinet, in its meeting on Dec 20, 2018, decided to appoint the petitioner as the CEO of the DRAP.
However subsequent to a complaint filed against the genuineness of his educational credentials, Sheikh Akhtar was removed from the post, to be replaced by Asim Rauf.
Justice Aurangzeb noted that the required qualification for this position was graduate degree in pharmacy or medicine and a minimum of 20 years of experience in management or pharmaceutical field or regulatory affairs in the public sector.
He observed that the petitioner ought not to have been awarded marks for his PhD degree from a non-chartered university and held that he was rightly removed from the post.
The court verdict said that the officers entrusted with looking after charge were not empowered to take policy decisions. It was clarified that regarding a decision-making process, there were certain orders which were of quasi-judicial nature and could not be taken by an officer not formally designated to exercise those powers.
Likewise, it was clarified that certain financial and administrative powers could be exercised only by the competent authority and an officer looking after the work could not exercise such powers as he had not been delegated with such powers by the competent authority.
Published in Dawn, September 18th, 2020