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Hiring of ex-PM’s son-in-law declared illegal

April 02, 2013

ISLAMABAD, April 1: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday declared illegal the appointment of former prime minister Raja Pervez Ashraf’s son-in-law in an investment company jointly owned by the governments of Pakistan and China.

The court on March 29 had also cancelled the contract for the construction of roads in the constituency of the former premier because it was awarded to the National Logistics Cell (NLC) in violation of the procurement rules.

Chief Justice Mohammad Anwar Khan Kasi of the IHC on Monday held that the notification issued for the appointment of Shahnawaz Mehmood, the son-in-law of Mr Ashraf, was illegal and unlawful.

The federal government on March 4 had issued the notification for the appointment of Mr Shahnawaz as the deputy managing director of the Pak-China Investment Company (PCICL).

Justice Kasi on March 6 had suspended the notification after Javed Mehmood, another deputy managing director of the company, challenged the appointment.

Zaheer Bashir Ansari, the petitioner’s counsel, adopted before the court that Mr Mehmood was appointed on the post on January 3, 2011, for three years but the former prime minister inducted his son-in-law on the post in March this year.

He said under the contract, Mr Mehmood could work till January 2014.

The counsel alleged that the finance division under political pressure had issued the notification, adding the appointment of Mr Shahnawaz was a clear example of nepotism.

Barrister Masroor Shah, the counsel for the Pak-China Investment Company, however, maintained that instead of filing a departmental representation against the appointment, Mr Mehmood had filed the petition with the IHC seeking a decree against the appointment.

Barrister Syed Ali Zafar, the counsel for the finance division, told the court that the petitioner was not a regular deputy managing director but had been nominated for the post.

He said the nomination for the post was the discretion of the competent authority and its continuity depended on the pleasure of the government.

He said it was similar to the appointment of the attorney general or advocate generals, governor State Bank of Pakistan in which the government can appoint or remove anybody at any point of time.

Justice Kasi observed that since the matter pertained to the economy, which was directly linked with the economic life of the citizens; therefore, the court would not remain silent on such arbitrary decisions.

While declaring the appointment of Mr Shahnawaz illegal, the court also relied upon the judgments of the Supreme Court passed on the appointment of Tauqir Sadiq, the former chairman Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) and some other cases.