The Supreme Court (SC) on Monday directed the Islamabad High Court (IHC) to decide within a month an intra-court appeal relating to appointment of former president of Zarai Taraqiati Bank (ZTBL).
The apex court directed the government’s top lawyer to ensure a detailed reply was filed from the Finance Division. The additional matter of who was responsible for publishing advertisements in the media, appreciating leadership of the former ZTBL president while the matter was sub-judice.
A two-member bench the SC comprising of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and Justice Khilji Arif Hussain was hearing a constitutional petition filed by Muhammad Nadeem Chohan against the appointment of the outgoing ZTBL President Muhammad Zaka Ashraf.
The petitioner’s counsel Mian Abdul Rauf contended that as per the State Bank (SBP) policy any bank’s president is required to communicate at least two months before his resignation to allow the government to make appropriate arrangements for his successor. He added that because the policy has been violated, it attracted penal consequences.
He stated that Ashraf was not qualified to fulfil the criteria to be appointed president of ZTBL under Section 11 of the bank’s Nationalization Act 1974. He added that Ashraf was not cleared by SBP since he did not meet the Fit and Proper Test (FPT).
Rauf argued that former ZTBL president was neither a graduate nor had any experience as a banker, adding that at least five years of working experience as Executive Vice-President at the policy making level was mandatory for ZTBL presidency.
Rauf informed the apex court that Ashraf has political affiliations with ruling party as a member of the party’s Central Executive Committee. He said that Ashraf is also Chief Executive of sugar mills and has been convicted by the Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) for his alleged involvement in restrictive trade practiced which disqualifies his appointment as the bank’s president. “SBP has declared that he was not qualified for such an appointment. However, despite this he was nominated by the Finance Division as ZTBL’s president. The nomination was illegally approved,” Rauf stated.
He informed the court that the Lahore High Court Rawalpindi has also declared his appointment illegal. Rauf pointed out that Ashraf is still the Chairman of Kissan Support Service Limited, a subsidiary of ZTBL and is also a member of ZTBL’s board of directors. He added that Ashraf did not submit resignation to the relevant forums including SBP and the government while chairing Pakistan Cricket Board.
The counsel for the former president of ZTBL, Mian Gul Hassan Aurangzeb submitted that Zaka Ashraf has left the charge as ZTBL president, adding that the intra-court appeal was pending in the IHC.
The hearing was adjourned sine die.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 15th, 2011.