KARACHI: The Sindh High Court on Monday declared the appointment of Syed Munawar Ali Shah as the inspector general of prisons & correction service, Sindh, illegal.

The court passed such an order on a petition filed in October challenging Mr Shah’s appointment as IG-Prisons.

After hearing arguments from parties concerned, a two-judge bench headed by Justice Muhammad Junaid Ghaffar allowed the petition through a short order.

The bench stated that the petition was filed as a quo warranto against Mr Shah pursuant to his appointment as IG-Prisons as a stop-gap arrangement till posting of a regular officer through a notification issued on Oct 13, 2023. Subsequently, it said, after filing of the petition, Mr Shah was transferred and posted with immediate effect and until further orders on the same post through another notification issued on Nov 1, 2023.

“Arguments heard. For reasons to be recorded later and subject to what is set out therein by way of amplification or otherwise, this petition is allowed and the two impugned notifications dated 13.10.2023 and 01.11.2023 are hereby set-aside,” the bench ruled in the order.

Bench sets aside two notifications appointing Munawar Shah as IG-Prisons

Citing the chief secretary, home secretary, Election Commission of Pakistan and Mr Shah as respondents, petitioner Ejaz Ali moved the SHC against the appointment and stated that he was a part of general public which would be seriously prejudiced by the arbitrary exercise of executive powers by the official respondents.

The petitioner stated that initially, the impugned appointment was made as a stop-gap arrangement, but after filing of the petition Mr Shah had been permanently appointed as IG-Prisons.

Representing the petitioners, Advocates Haider Waheed and Asad Ashaq argued that Munawar Shah was working as the DIG-Prisons in Sukkur when the provincial authorities appointed him as the IG-Prisons in violation of the rules.

They submitted that the selection for such a post should be by way of promotion from amongst the DIG prisons (BPS-20) having at least 22 years of service in BPS-17 and above along with successful completion of mandatory training being the National Management Course at National Institution of Management and on a seniority-cum-fitness basis.

However, they further submitted that Mr Shah could not meet the re-requisite criteria for such appointment as he had not undergone the mandatory training, did not have the requisite length of service and also lacked the seniority-cum-fitness threshold.

The counsel stated that initially, two summaries were prepared by the home department but the documents did not mention the cadre of the post in question being BPS-21 and the same had intentionally been omitted from being mentioned for mala fide reasons and ulterior motives.

They submitted that three government officials currently in civil service were senior to Mr Shah, who had earlier been suspended over misconduct.

Referring to some rulings of the apex court, the lawyers argued that the chief minister was not the competent authority to make such appointment but the provincial government had the mandate to do so while the appointment was not approved by the provincial cabinet.

Published in Dawn, February 20th, 2024

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