SC rejects plea challenging appointment of PM's advisers, special assistants

Registrar objected that the petitioners did not approach proper forum to redress their grievances


Hasnaat Malik April 21, 2020
Supreme Court of Pakistan. PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court Registrar's office on Tuesday refused to entertain a constitution petition against the appointment of prime ministerÔÇÖs advisors and special assistants.

The SC Registrar's office, while returning petition, raised an objection that the petitioners didn't approach proper forum to address their grievances.

SC Registrar's objections on the petition : PHOTO: EXPRESS SC Registrar's objections on the petition. PHOTO: EXPRESS

Lawyers Muhammad Arshad Khan and Ghulam Dastagir Butt had filed a constitutional petition under Article 184(3) through Jahangir Jadoon who is also the office bearer of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) legal wing.

Meanwhile, during the tenure of the incumbent chief justice of Pakistan, only one constitutional petition has been entertained so far.

The matter of the appointment of advisers and special assistants to the prime minister is also pending in the Islamabad High Court (IHC).

The federal government and all prime ministerÔÇÖs appointed advisers and special assistants were made respondents in the petition.

The petition argued that the appointments made directly or indirectly to exercise the power and control the government department are against the Constitution and should be dealt with in accordance with the law.

ÔÇ£The Prime Minister is neither a King nor a Monarch, but is in the domain of trust and under Article 5 of the Constitution, he is obliged to obey the Constitution and law like any other ordinary citizen, and while exercising his executive authority, his discretion is neither brazen nor arbitrary but subject to the Constitution, since he has taken the oath to discharge his duties and perform function solely in accordance with the Constitution of Pakistan,ÔÇØ the petition stated.

It also stated that Rule 4(6) of Rules of Business 1973 is inconsistent with the constitutional guarantee in the form of fundamental rights of its citizen.

ÔÇ£The federal government has no authority to appoint any unelected person as advisers and SAPMs [special advisers to the prime minister] with the status of Federal Minister and Minister of State,ÔÇØ the petition maintained.

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Referring to the induction of advisers and special assistants, the petitioners called for the apex court to declare that respondents No 6-24 [advisers and SAPMS]  are not entitled to any financial benefits, including salaries, allowances, perks, and privileges.

ÔÇ£The respondents No 6-24 may kindly be directed to surrender all the salaries and other perks and privileges obtained from the date of assuming of office till their removal,ÔÇØ the petition said.

It also contends that under Article 1 of the Constitution, affairs of the state are to be run in accordance with the provision of the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

The petition cited Article 90, which states that ÔÇ£The Cabinet under Article 91 consisting of PM as its head and the Federal Minister and Ministers of State under Article 92 helped by the advisers under Article 93 having the Advice of Attorney General Under Article 100 of the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan for the exercise of the Executive Authority of the Federation under the Rules of Business 1973, made under Article 99 thereof and any other post or office or office unless provided under the Constitution or law etc. is illegal, void ab initio, ultra vires the Constitution and corm non-judice.ÔÇØ

The petition further argued that conferring the status of a federal minister and minister of state on advisers and SAPMs, and giving them executive authority, therefore, is unconstitutional, illegal, void and ultra vires to the constitution and is liable to be set aside in the interest of justice and democracy.

It states that the act of the respondents No 1-5 [secretaries] is against the constitutional rights guaranteed to the petitioners and public at large.

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Moreover, the petitioners observe that further grounds will be submitted at the time of the hearing of the petition.

Meanwhile, another lawyer said that both the advisers as well as SAPMS are public office holders who deal with matters of utmost public importance considerably affecting the public at large and calls for making their assets public.

ÔÇ£Hence, to safeguard, advance and realize the publicÔÇÖs fundamental right to information, it is indispensable that the Advisors and SAPMS private assets shall be accessible to public,ÔÇØ he said.

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