In a court ruling issed by the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday, it was stated that unelected advisers and special assistants could not head government’s committees. Consequently, the IHC set aside last year’s notification regarding the formation of the Cabinet Committee on Privatisation (CCoP).
The CCoP notification was headed by Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Abdul Hafeez Shaikh.
Justice Aamer Farooq, when deciding the petition filed by a member of the National Assembly, ruled that unelected advisers and special assistants could not interfere into the executive’s domain. It was reiterated by the prosecution that the cabinet constitutes only the elected members of parliament, which comprise ministers and the prime minister. No additional, unelected aide to the government can take charge of governmental duties.
The petition was submitted by lawmaker Rana Iradat Sharif Khan through his counsel Barrister Mohsin Shahnawaz Ranjha, challenging the appointment of Abdul Hafeez Shaikh as chairman of the CCoP, and of Adviser to the PM on Commerce and Investment Abdul Razak Dawood and Adviser to the PM on Institutional Reforms and Austerity Dr Ishrat Hussain as members of the CCoP.
The CCoP notification, dated April 25, 2019, was challenged by lawmaker Iradat Sharif. In addition to nominating the unelected officials for the CCoP, the notification also nominated elected government officials including Minister for Communications Murad Saeed, Senator Farogh Naseem, Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar, Minister for Privatisation Mohammadmian Soomro and Minister for Power Omar Ayub Khan as members of the CCoP.
The nomination of Mr Shaikh, Mr Dawood and Dr Hussain, who were not elected by the people of Pakistan, for the CCoP was challenged before the court.
Pakistan could be governed only by elected representatives of the masses and a person who was not a member of the parliament could neither become a part of the cabinet nor its committees, asserted Barrister Ranjha.
According to the petition ruled: “Unlike ministers, advisers are not the part of the federal government, they do not take oath, they are not responsible to parliament in terms of Article 91(6) of the Constitution, they are not subject to the qualification and disqualification provided under Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution. Before and after their appointment, advisers are not bound to submit their statements of assets and liabilities…and they are not subject to any kind of scrutiny.”
“Appointing an Adviser with the status of a Minister does not empower him/her to act or function as a Minister or to perform functions under the Rules of Business 1973,” concluded the court verdict.