ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court on Friday gave a nod for the resizing of the Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) and rejected a petition filed by the organisation’s director general against termination of his services.

Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani of the IHC dismissed the petition of Omar Farooq, who was appointed a director of the CCP on Nov 18, 2015 on a regular basis against the post of director (mergers & acquisitions).

On July 1, 2018, he was promoted to the post of director general.

However, vide an office order of September 2020, the post of director general (mergers & acquisitions and the office of international and external affairs) was abolished.

Ex-DG’s plea against termination of his services rejected

The counsel for the petitioner, Barrister Faisal Khan, argued before the court that the CCP is a statutory body, but it has no power to abolish any post or deny the right of employment to the petitioner in terms of Competition Commission (Service) Regulations, 2007.

He said the termination order was contrary to the terms of appointment of the petitioner since matters relating to termination and others are governed under the Service Regulations which do not provide any subject of involuntary severance due to abolition of the post.

He argued that the petitioner could not be terminated through involuntary severance, a new concept which is beyond the scope of law and regulations.

CCP’s counsel Kashif Ali Malik contended that the CCP passed the order within four corners of law and as such the Competition Commission Act, 2010 duly recognises the powers to employ any person or create any post in terms of Section 23 of the Act which are necessary to carry out the functions of the commission.

He argued that a proposal for restructuring was prepared by the department and the CCP approved the proposal on Sept 21 last year.

Advocate Malik argued that the restructuring of the department is warranted to improve its performance and effectiveness.

He informed the court that the number of cases has decreased over the last few months due to Covid-19. Even otherwise, the commission needs to engage and build upon mid-level officers having relevant qualification and experience to work in the department to improve its efficiency and effectiveness.

The court observed that the CCP is an independent regulator dealing with the anti-competitive behaviour in different commercial and economic activities. It can regulate its own affairs according to the 2010 Act.

The number of officers working in the mergers and acquisitions department and office of international affairs are four and two, respectively. It is stated that the size of the department and the nature of work of its different sections are such that it does not justify an officer of the director general level.

The court observed that the CCP being an independent regulator has exclusive authority to regulate its internal affairs to settle the terms and conditions of its employees with lawful reasons, which are highlighted in this case, even otherwise, the service regulations of the Competition Commission’s employees are non-statutory; therefore, the petitioner cannot invoke the constitutional jurisdiction of the high court.

Published in Dawn, March 6th, 2021

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