Two-member bench rules that unelected aides to the prime minister cannot head government bodies
The Islamabad High Court on Monday set aside a notification on the formation of the Cabinet Committee on Privatization (CCoP) and ruled that unelected advisers and special assistants cannot head government committees.
A short order penned by Justices Aamir Farooq and Ghulam Azam Qambrani found that unelected officials could not interfere in the executive’s domain. Submitted by MNA Rana Iradat Sharif Khan through counsel Mohsin Ranjha, the petition being heard had challenged the appointment of Adviser to the P.M. on Finance Abdul Hafeez Shaikh as chairman of CCoP, as well as the notification of Adviser to the P.M. on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood and Adviser to the P.M. on Institutional Reforms and Austerity Ishrat Hussain as its members.
During proceedings, Ranjha said that unelected advisors and special assistants could not govern the country, adding that unlike ministers, advisers were not part of the federal government and were not answerable to Parliament under Article 91(6) of the Constitution.
He contended that advisers are not subject to qualification and disqualification under Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution, adding they were also not bound to submit a wealth statement or be subject to any kind of scrutiny prior to their appointment.
Upon the completion of arguments, the bench declared the formation of CCoP and the appointment of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s advisers in the committee illegal. Its judgment said that the rank of adviser and special assistant only conferred the perks of a federal minister upon an individual, and did not make them members of the government.
The ruling comes as a potentially major blow to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government’s privatization process.