ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Thursday reserved its decision in a case concerning the appointment of Director General of Haj.

Chief Justice Aamir Farooq and Justice Saman Rafat Imtiaz heard an intra-court appeal filed by Saima Sabah, a BS-20 officer of the Pakistan Audit and Accounts Service.

She contended in her petition that she had secured the first position in the written test for the position by obtaining 71 marks out of 100, but she was not selected due to “gender discrimination”.

Advocates Ahsan Bhoon and Raja Mohammad Saif represented Ms Sabah in the case.

Ms Sabah said that after the written test, a summary was sent to the prime minister seeking his permission for conducting a fresh examination because the previous exercise had not generated adequate competition.

Hafiz Ahsaan Ahmad Khokhar, counsel for the ministry of religious affairs, informed the court that an IHC single-member bench, comprising Justice Babar Sattar, had earlier dismissed Saima Sabah’s petition.

Hafiz Khokhar said the religious affairs ministry had invited applications from government employees for appointment as Director of Haj on April 1 and Sept 1.

The counsel further submitted that in order to ensure transparency, a written test was conducted by the Institute of Business Administration (IBA), Karachi, on Sept 25. Only two candidates qualified the written test, including the petitioner.

He submitted the Establishment Division’s guidelines require that at least three candidates be placed for interview before the Special Selection Board (SSB) in order to have healthy competition.

A summary was sent to the prime minister seeking his permission for conducting a fresh selection process.

Advocate Khokhar explained that pursuant to the SSB’s recommendation, a summary was moved to the Prime Minister’s Office through Establishment Division. The prime minister’s office gave its approval on Nov 18.

The counsel said the ministry conducted a fresh test on Dec 25 and Saima Sabah, the petitioner, was among the candidates who appeared in it.

Three candidates were called for an interview after the test, but Ms Sabah was not among them as she was unable to secure the minimum 50pc passing marks.

Published in Dawn, January 27th, 2023

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