ISLAMABAD             -        The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday dismissed an intra-court appeal (ICA) of the federal government against restoration of Sheikh Ansar Aziz as Mayor Islamabad after it withdrew the same.

A division bench of IHC comprising Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb and Justice GhulamAzamQambrani conducted hearing of the ICA filed by Additional Attorney General Tariq Khokhar on behalf of the federal government against the decision of the IHC single bench. During the hearing, the additional attorney general informed the court that the government intended to withdraw its ICA. The IHC bench accepted his plea and dismissed the ICA.

The ICA stated that the single bench in its order dated May 21 ordered the reinstatement of Sheikh Ansar Aziz but the suspension of Sheikh Ansar Aziz was nullified without fulfilling all legal requirements. Therefore, the decision of the single bench should be declared as null and void. During the hearing of Ansar’s petition, Local Government Secretary Ali Sufyan appeared before the court and presented the minutes and the agenda of the Local Government Commission’s meetings held on May 7 and May 14.  Advocate General Islamabad adopted before the court that the federal cabinet suspended the mayor on the recommendations of the Local Government Commission. Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad (MCI) Officer SyedaShafaqHashmi presented the reference against the mayor.

The court was informed that Aziz was accused of corruption in the Rs42 million contract of intercity bus terminals – five bus stations in various parts of the city – that the Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad (MCI) had awarded last year. The commission recommended the mayor’s suspension for 90 days to conduct a transparent probe into the matter, informed Sufyan. He added that six out of nine commission members were present during the meeting.

Aziz’s counsel raised an objection over the matter and maintained that according to media reports, his client was suspended on allegations of corruption and that had negatively impacted Aziz’s reputation in society.

He argued the court to issue an order on the conduct of the local government secretary. The counsel maintained that the appointment of Ali Awan [a PTI MNA] as the chairperson of the commission was a conflict of interest. After hearing the arguments, the IHC single bench ordered the restoration of Aziz as Mayor Islamabad.

The mayor was suspended “with immediate effect for a period of ninety (90) days for fair conduct of inquiry under section 96, sub-section (1) of Islamabad Capital Territory Local Government Act, 2015 (X of 2015),” read the notification issued by the interior ministry on Sunday. In his petition, the Mayor cited the federal government, Ministry of Interior and the local government commission as respondents and requested the court to direct the parties to work within the parameters of the law. He stated in the petition that soon after the appointment of Ali Nawaz Awan as the chairman of Local Government Commission (LGS), the commission has started creating hurdles in the affairs of the petitioner and started to pass orders in casual and arbitrary manner.

“Recently the Local Government Commission through its Chairman launched an attack and attempt to oust the petitioner from the office of Mayor Islamabad by leveling false and frivolous allegations against the petitioner and requested the government for suspension of the petitioner through a reference despite the fact that the suspension was not even a part of agenda of the meeting being held by the Local Government Commission and the petitioner assailed the said letter before the honourable Islamabad High Court through writ petition which is pending adjudication before this court,” said Sheikh’s petition.

He added that no due process was followed in the instant case before passing on the impugned order/ recommendation to the federal government which is fundamental right of the petitioner. He termed the action taken against him as illegal.

Earlier this year, a reference was filed against Aziz in which it was alleged that he was abusing his powers, using staff for personal use and operating official vehicles that were reportedly beyond his entitlement.

The reference was filed by HumayunAkhtar, a member of the Capital Development Authority (CDA) and the acting Chief Metropolitan Officer (CMO). A local government commission led by PTI lawmaker Ali Nawaz Awan had recommended Aziz be suspended during the course of an ensuing investigation.

However, Mayor Aziz, however, had challenged the reference in a petition to the Islamabad High Court, claiming that the accusations against him were politically motivated. He had informed the court that despite a legal delegation of power to the Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad (MCI), many of the functions had not been transferred by the CDA and the chief commissioner office to the MCI.

He had also alleged that the ruling PTI had paralyzed union councils in Islamabad and that MNA Awan had brought up challenges for the mayor soon after being appointed the head of the commission that filed the reference against him.

In the petition, he prayed to the court that the order/ recommendations passed by the Chairman LGC be declared that the same had been passed without lawful authority and in violation of the fundamental rights of the petitioner and the same may be set aside.