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Appointment of Ogra chief illegal: SC

The Supreme Court building in Islamabad.—File photo

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court struck down on Friday the appointment of Tauqir Sadiq as Chairman of the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) and ordered the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to consider investigating allegations of corruption against him.

The verdict by a bench comprising Justice Mian Shakirullah Jan, Justice Jawwad S. Khwaja and Justice Khilji Arif Hussain mentioned a number of allegations against Mr Sadiq and said these required serious investigation.

NAB was asked to submit its findings within 45 days on the possibility of filing corruption references.

The ruling on a petition by Mohammad Yasin against Mr Sadiq’s eligibility for the post asked the latter to return the emoluments drawn from the public exchequer as Ogra’s chairman.

Mr Sadiq, brother-in-law of a politician holding an important post in the PPP government, was appointed the chief of Ogra in July 2009.

The verdict authored by Justice Jawwad said Mr Sadiq’s appointment violated the criteria laid down in Section 3(4) of the Ogra Ordinance of 2002. The section requires the head of the independent institution to be an eminent professional of “known competence and integrity”.

Mr Sadiq, who faces several corruption allegations and holds an LLM degree from a reportedly ‘fake degree-granting’ institution, the American University in London, was found to have failed to meet the required standard.

The judgment held that under the law and the Constitution the executive retained the power to make appointments but this power must be exercised in a demonstrably fair and honest manner.

It outlined a three-pronged test based on objectivity, relevance and due diligence. Any appointment failing this test would be invalid and liable to be struck down upon judicial review.

The judgment closely examined the process followed during the appointment and found it fraught with serious irregularities.

It pointed out that applicants were selected and rejected in an arbitrary and illegal manner and little attention was paid to objective indicators of their ability and merit.

Such was the incompetence and lack of probity in the selection process, the court said, that during Mr Sadiq’s four interviews and several short-listings, no-one noticed the fake degree he was relying on or the other unsubstantiated claims on his CV.

The interviews of 17 candidates were all rushed in a single day and a single field expert was deemed sufficient for examining the technical prowess of applicants from wide-ranging fields, it said.