The Peshawar High Court (PHC) has suspended privatisation process of the Bank of Khyber (BoK), saying the sell-off is a result of a bargain and is aimed at depriving employees of their jobs.
The court issued the order while hearing a petition filed against the privatisation of the bank by the president of the BoK officers association.
PHC Chief Justice Dost Muhammad Khan and Justice Waqar Seth said the bank had been a fast-growing profitable institution since its inception and issued notices to all respondents including additional chief secretary, bank managing director, board of governors and others.
A public notice for privatising the bank was published in national newspapers on February 5.
Barrister Baacha, counsel for the petitioner, told the court that the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government was in an advanced stage of selling management control of BoK to the private sector.
He said the management would be transferred to the shareholder having 26% shares, adding a bidder already had 19.5% shares and would soon reach 26 per cent to get control of the bank.
Baacha said the advertisement had the approval of the State Bank of Pakistan, but termed the approval baseless and untrue, saying the bank was looking after the needs of people and earned profit of Rs1.2 billion last year. “It’s a jewel in the crown,” he said.
The chief justice observed that the bank was being gifted to someone at a time when its financial health had reached the peak due to consistent growth. “Profitable institutions are never privatised,” he said.
“The privatisation process and all the steps taken including publication of notices in press, television and on websites shall not be acted upon by the respondent and are suspended,” the chief justice announced.
Petitioner Bilal Mustafa told The Express Tribune that BoK branches increased from 34 to 62 in the past two years, which clearly indicated that the bank was flourishing.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 1st, 2012.