KARACHI / HYDERABAD: While a division bench of the Sindh High Court at Karachi on Tuesday dismissed as ‘devoid of merit’ a petition challenging the appointment of deputy prime minister and more than five advisers, another division bench at Hyderabad rook up a similar petition and issued notices to the prime minister and other respondents for July 24.
Maulvi Iqbal Haider had challenged the appointment of Chaudhry Pervez Elahi as deputy prime minister as well as the appointment of advisers beyond the permissible limit of five.
On Tuesday, justices Munib Akhtar and Aftab Ahmed Gorar at Karachi heard the complainant, who also submitted a copy of the impugned notification issued by prime minister. The court noted that according to the notice, the deputy prime minister will neither exercise prime ministerial powers nor will have similar perks and privileges.
The petitioner claimed that the notification, although good for nothing except a political bribe, was illegal and unconstitutional, as the post of deputy prime minister is not provided in the Constitution.
“[But] the Constitution does not prevent the prime minister from issuing such a notification,” the judges responded.
Haider had submitted that the prime minister cannot “legally” appoint his deputy and there is no concept of an acting prime minister in the law. The bench, agreeing to this proposition, was of the view that the prime minister can nominate any member of federal cabinet to look after the day to day affairs of the government in his absence.
He stated that the move has further expanded the cabinet and to secure support for the current prime minister, the federal government also violated the Supreme Court order, which had fixed the number of advisers to be five.
The court remained unconvinced, however, and after hearing the plaintiff at length, dismissed his plea, terming it of no merit.
However, the division bench at Hyderabad registry, while taking up a similar petition, issued notices for July 24 to prime minister, the deputy prime minister, Attorney General besides secretaries of the cabinet division and law ministry.
The petitioner, advocate Liaquat Ali Baloch, who is also joint secretary of Kashmore District Bar, contended that the appointment was in violation of the Constitution which permits only one chief executive. He prayed that the notification be declared as ‘ultra vires’ and should be treated as withdrawn immediately.
He also requested that the act of prime minister Raja Pervez Ashraf, who issued the notification, be declared mala fide, based on ulterior motives and unlawful.
Quoting from the notification, the petitioner emphasised that the prime minister had gone overboard as the order did not cite any article of the Constitution that had been invoked for the appointment.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 4th, 2012.