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IHC suspends PM’s task force

May 22, 2012

ISLAMABAD, May 21: While suspending the notification to set up the prime minister’s task force to oversee the affairs of Capital Development Authority (CDA), Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui of Islamabad High Court on Monday directed Faisal Sakhi Butt not to pretend to be its chairman.

Hearing a petition filed by Shahid Akbar through his counsel Barrister Zafarullah Khan and Niazullah Niazi against the task force, the court also passed the same order for members of the task force - Nargis Faiz Malik, MPA, and Asad Mumtaz Khan, a local PPP leader.

The notification issued on December 13, 2011, by Khushnood Akhtar Lashari, the principal secretary to the prime minister, stated: “Prime minister has been pleased to appoint a (three-member) task force to oversee the affairs of Capital Development Authority (CDA), Islamabad.”

Justice Siddiqui also sought reply from the prime minister’s principal secretary as well as Mr Butt and the CDA chairman and adjourned the hearing till the third week of June.

The petitioner’s counsel maintained that their client had approached the court against what they said the illegal appointment of Mr Butt as the prime minister’s task force head that enabled him to control the civic agency.

They said Mr Butt was working as the virtual head of the civic agency and presided over a number of CDA board meetings besides inaugurating development projects in the city.

The counsel said Mr Butt recently visited Turkey on behalf of the CDA while the task force members had been spending huge amount on media campaigns, which was evident from the posters displayed along the city roads.

The petition said CDA Chairman Farkhand Iqbal also spent a large amount on the protocol of the task force in the shape of deputing CDA staff for their personal works, cars and other requirements.

It alleged that the task force, especially its chairman, was controlling the authority which was evident from the website of the CDA which stated that Mr Butt issued directions to the CDA on different matters.

The petition claimed that Mr Butt was going to contest next general elections from Islamabad under the platform of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and, therefore, was exploiting the office and public money for his personal publicity.

It pointed out that the CDA was a statutory body established under the Capital Development Authority Ordinance 1960. The ordinance does not empower any office, person or authority to appoint a task force for overseeing the affairs of the civic agency.

The establishment of the task force, therefore, merits to be declared void, it said and added: “If the task force is allowed to continue functioning it will lead to complete destruction of the civic body.”It said the formation of the task force was in gross violation of the CDA Ordinance 1960 and other laws, adding the appointment of its chairman was causing interference in the working of the CDA and the civil servants. The petition maintained that the prime minister can appoint the CDA chairman but cannot authorise any task force to oversee the working of a statutory body.

Meanwhile, the court also took up another related matter in which Mr Butt’s counsel Mohammad Munir Paracha raised objections to the jurisdiction of the court.

He said the high court had no suo motu powers for taking up an entirely different matter while hearing a particular case.

Advocate Paracha said the court was hearing a land allotment case filed by a Kashmiri migrant when it noticed the role of the task force. He said the court cannot pass any order against the task force until someone challenges it.

He, however, sought some time to file a detailed reply along with relevant record and documentation.