ISLAMABAD: President Dr Arif Alvi used his discretion to appoint the Press Council of Pakistan (PCP) chairman, rejecting the advice of the then-prime minister. The stance was taken by the Presidency in response to a petition filed before the Islamabad High Court (IHC) by one of the aspirants for the position that had been vacant since July 2019.

The petitioner, Arshad Khan Jadoon, had challenged President Alvi’s “biased discretion” to reject the summary and PM’s advice and discard the entire selection exercise “on a mere whim”. Accor­ding to the Presidency, President Alvi had received PM’s advice for Mr Jadoon’s appointment as PCP chairman, despite the fact that the law makes it clear that president is the appointing authority.

The Presidency, in its reply submitted to the IHC, referred to Section 6 (1) of the PCP Ordinance 2002, that provides, “The Council shall consist of 19 members including the Chairman. The Chairman shall be appointed by the President of Pakistan in his person qualified to be judge of the Supreme Court.”

It said this legal provision “explicitly states that the chairman shall be appointed by the president in his discretion and not on the advice of the prime minister.” It said the president conducted interviews of three candidates including petitioner Jad­oon on Aug 8 and appointed Dr G.M. Chaudhry as PCP chairman finding him as the “most suitable candidate and the decision was conveyed to the prime minister.”

Former PCP chairman Salahuddin Mengal had completed his three-year tenure in July 2019. The process to appoint another chairman was initiated by the PTI government, but remained inconclusive. The PDM government then finalised names for and pay scale of the slot of PCP chairman. The then information minister Marriyum Aurangzeb approved a summary on Nov 1, 2022, and forwarded the names of three shortlisted candidates, along with the selection board’s assessment, to the PM Office.

The three shortlisted candidates were Mr Jadoon, Mohammad Akram Khaksar and Dr G.M. Chaudhry, all of them lawyers. According to the board’s assessment, 295 marks were awarded to Mr Jadoon, 278 to Mr Khaksar and 267 to Dr Chaudhry. After the president rejected the summary and board’s assessment, Mr Jadoon filed the petition through his counsel, arguing that he had served as chairman of the Implementation Tribunal of Newspapers Employees for two years and as deputy attorney general in 2015.

It informed the IHC that former PM Shehbaz Sharif had approved his name and forwarded it to President Alvi.

“It is a principle of law that an appointing authority does not have unfettered, unbridled, unregulated and biased discretion and in this particular case, the President ignored the advice of the PM, and discarded the entire selection exercise on a mere whim,” Mr Jadoon argued.

Published in Dawn, October 21st, 2023

Opinion

Editorial

Miles to go
Updated 14 Jul, 2024

Miles to go

Some reforms agreed with the Fund are going to seriously impact economic growth and fresh investments, at least in the short term.
Iddat ruling
14 Jul, 2024

Iddat ruling

IT was a needless, despicable spectacle which only ended up uniting both conservatives and progressives in ...
Cricket shake-up
14 Jul, 2024

Cricket shake-up

SOMEONE had to take the blame and bear the brunt of the fallout from Pakistan’s disastrous showing at the T20 ...
Injustice undone
Updated 13 Jul, 2024

Injustice undone

The SC verdict is a stunning reversal of fortunes for a party that was, both before and after general elections, being treated as a defunct entity.
Looming flour shortage
13 Jul, 2024

Looming flour shortage

FOR once, it is hard to argue against the reason that compelled flour mills to call a nationwide strike from...
Same old script
13 Jul, 2024

Same old script

WHEN it comes to the troubling issue of enforced disappearances/ missing persons — either Baloch or belonging to...