ISLAMABAD : The top court on Thursday declared the appointment of Ataul Haq Qasmi as director and chairman of Pakistan Television (PTV) illegal.
A three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, directed the recovery of the amount of Rs197.867 million from Qasmi, former finance minister Ishaq Dar, former minister for information Pervaiz Rashid and ex-principal secretary to the prime minister Fawad Hasan Fawad.
Announcing the verdict, the court held that Qasmi would pay 50 per cent of the total amount for being the beneficiary of illegal acts, while Rashid would pay 20 per cent because he ignored the law and disregarded his duty to confer the benefit.
Secretary to PM Fawad would pay 10 per cent because of his failure to act with due diligence in processing the summary for appointment of the director of PTV from a person-specific recommendation as opposed to a panel of three names as required by the Esta Code.
The chief justice, who authored the 48-page verdict, said, “These amounts are their liabilities and they must be reimbursed to PTV.
“We give them an opportunity to do so voluntarily. However if they fail to do so within a period of two months, PTV is directed to recover the said amounts from them in the stated ratio as per the procedure in practice for the recovery of dues”
The court observed that the federal government not only bypassed the law, but took active steps for appeasement upon which “this court expresses its disapproval and dismay”.
“It also finds that the unlimited benefits/allowances granted to the office of the chairman of PTV is not in line with the policy of the best interests of the public sector company,” sates the verdict.
The ruling says that the administrative actions taken by Qasmi were beyond the scope of duties of a chairman; therefore, “all such orders passed by him during his tenure are declared to be illegal and void ab initio”.
“The alarming negligence of the government officials which they tried to justify by stating that they were merely following orders from superiors/political heads shows their utter lack of ability to withstand pressure and influence from higher officers or political bosses.
“Furthermore, it is evident that each official was trying to shift responsibility from himself onto the other ministry(ies)/division(s). This exercise of shirking responsibility and ignoring the rules has resulted in colossal loss of millions of rupees to the public exchequer and PTV.”
The court, while justifying its jurisdiction, said it was apparent from the face of the record that there was nepotism and misuse of authority regarding Qasmi’s appointment as director/MD PTV. Therefore, it was well within the powers of this court to determine the validity of such appointment and fixation of salary etc. The question then arises whether PTV, a public sector company, is a person performing functions in connection with the affairs of the federation.
“This court is well within its powers to take cognisance of the matter under Article 184(3) of the Constitution on account of violation of the fundamental rights of the citizens, including those guaranteed under Articles 18 and 25 of the Constitution. Even otherwise, this court has the power to do complete justice under Article 187 of the Constitution.”
The court directed the federal government to appoint a full-time MD of PTV (if the position is still vacant) after fulfilling all legal, procedural and codal formalities, strictly in accordance with the law.