PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court on Tuesday set aside the order for the termination of the chief financial officer of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Economic Zones Development and Management Company (EZDMC) by its board of directors over three years ago and ordered his re-instatement.
A bench consisting of Chief Justice Qaiser Rashid Khan and Justice Syed M Attique Shah accepted a petition filed by Shahid Iqbal Khattak, who had challenged the Aug 10, 2017, termination of his services by the board.
It pronounced a short order after the completion of arguments by both parties.
Aamir Javed, lawyer for the petitioner, contended that his client was appointed on Aug 13, 2015, as the EZDMC CFO through a competitive process.
Shahid Khattak had challenged his sacking by company’s BoD
He said EZDMC was a public sector company, which was fully owned and controlled by the provincial government.
The lawyer said the petitioner had been performing his functions to the best of his abilities and throughout his tenure, he had never received any complaint or grievance about his performance at work.
He added that the company’s chief executive officer had signed his performance appraisal for the period 2016-17 declaring its outstanding in all departments.
The counsel said the petitioner was taken aback when his termination letter was issued on Aug 10, 2017, proclaiming that it was the BoD, which had in its 13th meeting held the same day decided to terminate his services.
He said the termination letter was issued without any show cause notice to him by simply invoking clause 5.1 (termination without any reason) of the employment contract instead of clause 5.3 (termination on misconduct) evidently showing no misconduct or unprofessional behavior involved in termination.
He argued that there were neither any such recommendations from CEO nor relevant minutes of HR Committee reported any such discussion points.
The counsel contended that the sudden removal of the petitioner had irked several others in the company and on Aug 14, 2017, the Audit and Risk Management Committee of the company had decided to inquire as to what led to the sudden removal of the petitioner.
He said the internal audit revealed that two false and baseless allegations were leveled against the petitioner.
The lawyer said the termination letter was initially challenged in 2017 with the high court ordering BoD on June 6, 2018, to decide his pending representation within two months.
He said the HR committee conducted a detailed inquiry in Jan 2019 and declared that the process followed in termination was not in line with the established norms and lacked the requisite transparency.
The lawyer said finally, the BoD in 26th BoD meeting on Oct 25, 2018, constituted a three-member committee to review the findings of both HR and audit committees.
He said the committee declared that the previous BoD decision about termination was within their legal powers but the decision won’t stop the former CFO from applying for the post or others when the KPEZMC advertised for them.
The lawyer the constitution of the three-member committee was illegal and a violation of the Companies Act, 2017.
Published in Dawn, January 27th, 2021