Rival groups clash for Hyderabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry control after IHC verdict

Published May 27, 2024
SUPPORTERS of rival HCCI groups gather outside its secretariat after scuffles on Sunday.—Umair Ali
SUPPORTERS of rival HCCI groups gather outside its secretariat after scuffles on Sunday.—Umair Ali

• Sitting and former office-bearers bicker over conditions spelt out in judgement
• Secretariat sealed after SHO, two constables remained trapped inside for over 10 hours

HYDERABAD: Intermittent scuffles took place between two groups of former and incumbent representatives of the Hyderabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (HCCI) on Sunday for the control of its office in the wake of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) judgement pronounced on May 22.

SHO of the Cantonment police station Abdul Razzaq, two of his subordinate constables and some HCCI staff members remained locked in the chamber secretariat during the episode.

The SHO told Dawn that he had come to maintain law and order in view of the similar unrest in the past when in a mob-like posture people had intruded the chamber, ransacked its offices. A pistol was recovered from one of the intruders, he recalled.

On Sunday, the SHO said, he along with the two constables, locked the chamber from inside and sat with HCCI staff to ensure a smooth transition. The police officer and his two subordinates remained trapped in the office for over 10 hours while the two rival groups, involved in the scuffles, continued their respective sit-ins outside the secretariat and a strong contingent of police stood guard in front of it to meet any eventuality. Another round of talks between the two sides, under deputy commissioner’s supervision, continued till midnight. The police then sealed off the secretariat.

Earlier, the two sides failed to reconcile and stuck to their respective positions on HCCI’s control. Both offered legal explanations in support of their argument as the City assistant commissioner tried to mediate between the two sides.

The negotiations that had started at around 2pm continued without any break.

One group was led by Adeel Siddiqui, the sitting HCCI President and the other group was led by Seth Goharullah, a former HCCI president, who has opted for litigation over the old chamber’s licence issue. HCCI has been registered under a new licence from DGTO.

Eventually, an appeal was filed by the old HCCI office-bearers before federal government but the same was dismissed on April 1, 2022. A new licence was issued to Adeel Siddiqui-led HCCI on April 20, 2022 and his body started working there. The new licence was issued in the light of IHC’s order of Oct 16, 2019. The other group remained engaged in litigation in the IHC, which pronounced its judgement on May 22.

The operating part of the May 22 order, read out by Justice Miangul Hassan Aurganzeb, said that “the appeal No. 56/2022 and writ petition No.158/2023 are allowed in that orders dated Jan 27, 2020 and April 1, 2022 of DGTO and federal government, respectively, are set aside and licence dated April 20, 2022 granted by Ministry of Commerce to New-HCCI is declared to have been granted in violation of requirements of Section 9(1) of the TO Act, 2013”.

The order, however, read that “matter is remanded to DGTO who shall be at liberty to amend the show-cause notice [issued to old HCCI] on Jan 10, 2020 and thereafter decide whether or not to cancel Old-HCCI’s licence after affording it as well as respondent-5 [Adeel Siddiqui] an opportunity of a hearing as required by Section 7(2) of TO Act, 2013”.

On the basis of said order Goharullah’s group comprising Ziauddin, Haji Ismail, Mohammad Shahid, Mahmood Rajput and others tried to enter HCCI to take control of HCCI but office-bearers of present HCCI body were already present there. They resisted the move. Intermittent scuffles were seen between supporters of the rival groups. Siddiqui’s associates, Iqbal Baig, Najam Qureshi, Awais Khan, Iftikhar Abbasi and others also remained present.

Situation remained tense outside HCCI as both groups were staging sit-ins. AC City Babar Rahupoto and DSP Iftikhar Buriro spoke to the two sides to settle the issue amicably but in vain. Both sides insisted that they had the legal standing to claim possession of the chamber.

According to Ziauddin, after the May 22 order of IHC, old HCCI’s position before cancellation of its licence had been restored. “Our status is restored,” he told Dawn but did not reply that why the matter was still referred to DGTO to decide whether or not to cancel old HCCI’s licence after hearing the two sides.

Adeel Siddiqui and Awais Khan admitted that the IHC had passed an order in their rivals’ favour but the bench has also simultaneously referred the matter to the DGTO.

“It is DGTO that is to de-notify us [new HCCI] which is not yet done because DGTO, as per the IHC order, is at liberty to amend show-cause notice to the old HCCI and, thereafter, decide whether or not to cancel old licence after hearing both sides,” he said. He questioned how could the rival group intrude HCCI premises on the basis of hooliganism, and said since they had the IHC order they should get matter decided from DGTO as per the May 22 order.

HCCI was granted licence on March 16, 1959 by Federal Ministry of Commerce with directives that it be registered as a company with limited liability and on July 14,1960, the old HCCI was incorporated as a company under provision of erstwhile Companies Act 1913.

Published in Dawn, May 27th, 2024

Opinion

Editorial

Slow start
Updated 15 Jun, 2024

Slow start

Despite high attendance, the NA managed to pass only a single money bill during this period.
Sindh lawlessness
Updated 15 Jun, 2024

Sindh lawlessness

A recently released report describes the law and order situation in Karachi as “worryingly poor”.
Punjab budget
15 Jun, 2024

Punjab budget

PUNJAB’S budget for 2024-25 provides much fodder to those who believe that the increased provincial share from the...
Budget and politics
Updated 14 Jun, 2024

Budget and politics

PML-N, scared of taking bold steps lest it loses whatever little public support it has, has left its traditional support — traders — virtually untouched.
New talks?
14 Jun, 2024

New talks?

WILL this prove another false start, or may we expect a more sincere effort this time? Reference is made to the...
A non-starter
14 Jun, 2024

A non-starter

WHILE the UN Security Council had earlier this week adopted a US-backed resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza...