ISLAMABAD-A division bench of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) Wednesday rejected government’s plea to issue stay order against a single bench’s verdict which had set aside the termination orders of the chairperson and members of the Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP).

The division bench of IHC comprising Chief Justice of IHC Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Aamer Farooq conducted hearing of the government’s petition against a single bench’s judgment regarding restoration of Vadiyya Khalil as chairperson of CCP and its two members.

During the hearing, additional attorney general Khawaja Imtiaz appeared before the court and requested the court to immediately suspend the single bench’s verdict in this matter.

However, the court rejected his request saying that the court would decide this matter on the next hearing and deferred the hearing till April 13.

Earlier, a single bench of IHC comprising Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb had set aside the termination orders of the chairperson and members of the CCP.

The chairperson, Vadiyya Khalil, and members Dr Mohammad Saleem and Shahzad Ansar of the CCP had challenged their removal by the federal government through Advocate Jahanzeb Sukhera.

It was October 15, 2018 the federal government had ordered the removal of the chairperson and members of the CCP.

This order was made after a summary moved by the Finance Division stated that their appointment was not made by the prime minister and the cabinet, therefore it could not be claimed that the decision was made by the federal government as defined by the Supreme Court of Pakistan in the case of Mustafa Impex.

The apex court in the said judgment declared that the prime minister could not exercise powers without the nod of the federal cabinet. It was stated that the appointment was made by the finance minister in consultation with the prime minister and was thus illegal.

Advocate Sukhera contended that the federal government had authorized the finance minister and prime minister through decisions dated November 2, 2016 and February 7, 2017 to make appointments to the heads of statutory bodies and this authorization did not amount to a delegation of power but was rather a permission to select the appointees for the federal government, which retained the power to appoint.

He added that even if this authorization was termed a delegation of power, the same was permissible under the Competition Act, as the law allowed the federal government to prescribe the mode and manner of appointment of the members of the CCP, thus, allowing it to delegate its power to appoint to any subordinate functionaries.

He pointed out that the Finance Division in its summary dated September 27, 2018 had stated that the performance of the chairperson and members of the CCP was satisfactory and that the federal government should regularize their appointments.

The counsel also highlighted this point in court that the federal government in its reply had maintained the position that the removal of the chairperson and members was not due to their performance but rather based on the technicality that the minister of finance and the prime minister had appointed them instead of the prime minister and the federal cabinet.

After hearing the arguments at length, Justice Aurangzeb set aside the termination orders of the CCP’s chairperson and members.