ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) has rejected a request of the federal government to withdraw its stay order against its last week decision to remove the Karachi Port Trust (KPT) Chairman Rear Admiral (retd) Jamil Akhtar. The court has also ordered government to submit a written reply.
The former PML-N government appointed Akhtar as the KPT chairman on Nov 23, 2017 for a period of three years, but the PTI government on March 25 removed him from the post prematurely, citing different reasons including alleged irregularities.
The former rear admiral later moved the IHC claiming that the federal government had issued the impugned notification of March 25 without placing the matter before the federal cabinet.
The petition said Akhtar, by virtue of his office as the KPT chairman, had also been one of the trustees of the trust and that once a trustee or the chairman was appointed, then his removal could only be made on the grounds clearly written in the Section 11 read with Section 15 and 15(A) of the KPT Act, 1886
Taking up the petition on March 28, an IHC bench headed by Chief Justice Athar Minallah suspended the order terminating Jamil Akhtar’s services and sought a reply on his petition by April 2.
On Thursday, the Additional Attorney General Tariq Khokhar requested Justice Minallah to withdraw the stay order as he sought some more time for submission of a written reply.
The court asked if the federal cabinet had endorsed the decision to remove the KPT chairman. Presenting a report, Khokhar said the federal cabinet had granted the approval.
The judge said the government stated that Jamil Akhtar allegedly committed irregularities. He said if he has been charged of irregularities then why he was removed without completing the legal process.
“The correspondences between Akhtar and to the concerned minister [Minister for Maritime Affairs Ali Zaidi] that the applicant has attached to the petition do not seem to be appropriate. Submit a written reply and then the court will look into this matter,” the judge stated.
The chief justice also wondered why the federal government was taking so much interest in the matter. “The term of office is fixed so that the officer does not obey any wrong orders. If the KPT chairman has committed any irregularities, he should have been issued a showcase notice,” he noted.
Khokhar said a transparent audit of the KPT cannot be performed as long as Jamil Akhtar occupies the seat of the chairman. “We request the court either to withdraw the chairman’s powers or order him not to interfere with audit process,” he said.
Justice Minallah asked how the government accused Akhtar of irregularities when the audit process was still under way. “Issue a show cause notice to Jamil Akhtar, but this court will not let anyone’s basic rights denied,” he noted.
The IHC later upheld its stay order against the government’s decision and asked the government to submit a written reply by April 9, the next date of hearing.