The Sindh High Court (SHC) was informed on Thursday that the incumbent Sindh chief minister has two advisers enjoying the status of ministers against the permission of five, besides 12 special assistants since the law does not restrict his powers to appoint as many as he needs.
This was stated by the secretary of the services and general administration department in the comments filed in response to a petition challenging the appointment of an excessive number of advisers and special assistants by the chief minister.
The secretary’s report stated that under Article 130(11) of the Constitution, the “Chief Minister shall not appoint more than five advisers”. Therefore, the CM has appointed only two advisers - Syed Murad Ali Shah for finance and Asghar Ali Khan Junejo for labour - while exercising his powers as enumerated in the Constitution.
The secretary maintained that the CM is empowered under Section 4(1) of the Sindh Special Assistants (Appointment, Powers, Functions, Salaries, Allowances and Privilege) Act 2013 to appoint special assistants. “The act does not restrict the chief minister’s powers to appoint special assistants,” said the secretary. “Presently, there are 12 advisers,” he added, pleading the court dismiss the plea.
Headed by Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar, the bench adjourned the hearing till May 5 due to paucity of time to continue the hearing on the day.
A lawyer, Moulvi Iqbal Haider, had challenged the appointment of the advisers, the special assistants and parliamentary secretaries to Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah.
Those who have been named as respondent in the plea include the federal cabinet secretary, chief secretary, advisers Asghar Ali Khan Junejo and Syed Murad Ali Shah, and special assistants Ziaul Hassan Lanjar, Waqas Malik, Waqar Mehdi, Rashid Hussain Rabbani, Imtiaz Hussain, Yousuf Mastoi, Jam Qasim, Umer Rehman Malik, Sharmila Faruqi, Javed Ahmed Shah, Syed Riaz Hussain Shah and Khan Sahab Sohrab Khan Marri, and parliamentary secretaries to the chief minister, Taj Haider, Siddiqui Abu Bhai, Ahsan Raza Jafri, Nadia Gabol, Lai Bux Mangi, Pir Mujeebul Haq, Dr Sikander Ali Shoro, Dr Fayyaz Butt and Nasir Shah.
He had argued that the Sindh government had appointed 23 advisers and special assistants, coordinators and parliamentary and political secretaries instead of five, whose status was equivalent to that of provincial ministers, in sheer violation of the country’s Constitution in addition to putting a heavy burden on the national wealth.
Currently, there are 18 provincial ministers, including the chief minister, which is also against the Constitution as it restricts the number of ministers in any cabinet to 15 or 11 per cent of the total membership of the provincial assembly, he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 25th, 2014.
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