ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar on Wednesday took strong exception to Prime Minister Imran Khan’s expression of regret over his remarks about ‘nepotism’.
“If appointments are made on the basis of nepotism, then the court will interfere,” the chief justice observed while hearing a petition seeking disqualification of the Prime Minister’s Special Assistant Syed Zulfikar Ali Bukhari — aka Zulfi Bukhari.
The petition — filed by Muhammad Adil Chattha from Lahore and Mirza Abdul Moiz Baig from Karachi — raised objections over Bukhari’s appointment as prime minister’s special assistant on overseas Pakistanis and human resource development on account of his dual nationality.
“The court cannot change its decisions because someone is upset,” remarked the chief justice.
The observation was in contrast to the bonhomie witnessed between the prime minister and the top judge during a symposium on population growth held at the Supreme Court where the former was the chief guest.
The prime minister, in an interview with senior anchorpersons, had lamented the top judge using the word ‘nepotism’ regarding the appointment of Bukhari.
Justice Nisar had remarked that “nepotism should not be seen” while appointing individuals on senior positions, questioning the merit behind the selection of the British-Pakistani for the post.
During the hearing, the top judge asserted that he would continue to use the word ‘nepotism’, saying “justice is independent of anyone’s regret”.
“I will use the word nepotism 20 times if the allegation of nepotism is found,” observed the chief justice, adding, “We cannot change our stance on anyone’s regret.”
“We shall interfere in such matters as it is our duty to work for improving the country’s administration,” said the chief justice.
The judiciary had the power of review (everything), he added.
“The apex court is exercising quo warranto powers to probe Bukhari’s appointment,” he said, adding, “Perhaps, no one has explained [to him] regarding working of the court in this matter.”
The bench enquired how Bukhari had attended a meeting of the Employees Old-age Benefits Institution (EOBI). “We want to ensure the appointment is done as per the law.”
Defence counsel Aitzaz Ahsan emphasised that the special assistant had “performed phenomenally and also donated his salary to the prime minister and chief justice’s dam fund”.
The hearing of the case was adjourned till December 24.
Meanwhile, Bukhari argued in his written reply that the law permitted the prime minister to confer any status upon him, adding that conferment of the ‘status of minister of state’ did not make an appointee a minister of state.
He contended that the reliance in the petition on Article 62 of the Constitution exhibited ignorance of the actual post held by him, which was neither as a federal minister nor minister of state.