ISLAMABAD-The Islamabad High Court (IHC) Monday extended its stay orders in a petition challenging the constitution of an inquiry committee to probe the data leak of Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) against its additional director. 

A single bench of IHC comprising Chief Justice of IHC Justice Athar Minallah conducted hearing of the petition filed by Muhammad Arslan Zafar, Additional Director SECP.  During the hearing, the legal representative of SECP requested the court to grant some time for submission of its reply. He informed the court that the reply of SECP is ready and would be submitted soon.  Accepting his request, the IHC bench extended its stay orders till October 27 and deferred the proceedings. 

In his petition filed through Taimoor Aslam Khan Advocate, Zafar made Chairman SECP, Secretary SECP and Chairman of Inquiry Committee Ms Sadia Khan as respondents. 

He stated that petitioner is presently serving as Additional Director, Market Supervision and Risk Department in the SECP and he is a qualified Chartered Accountant, having obtained his educational degree from the prestigious Institute of Chartered Accounts in England and Wales.

The petitioner mentioned that while serving his duties on September 9, Head of Department, Human Resource informed him that an inquiry has been initiated against him and he was required to proceed on leave with immediate effect. He added that his laptop was taken into possession by HoD which contained confidential and sensitive information, with respect to ongoing and completed investigations, without complying with any legal formalities such as preparing of a seizure memo etc.  

Zafar further said that on 11-09-2020, the petitioner received a letter dated 10-09-2020 containing the subject “Inquiry regarding the matter of accessing the database,” whereby, through the contents of the said letter, it transpired to him that the Respondent Commission in its 45th Meeting held on 08th and 09th September had constituted an Inquiry Committee. 

He also said that the petitioner in due compliance appeared before the Inquiry Committee on 16-09-2020, wherein, he fully cooperated with the Inquiry Committee and responded to all questions posed to him.  In his petition, he challenged the constitution of the Inquiry Committee by the SECP to initiate necessary formal inquiry on account of “potential data leak of SECP Database.” 

He prayed to the court to declare the Inquiry Report dated 19-09-2020 submitted by the said Inquiry Committee entirely conjectural in nature and based on mere assumptions and not on facts and to quote the Inquiry Committee “provide ‘circumstantial evidence’ of his involvement in potential data leak which may have formed the basis of subsequent media leaks” and in utter violation of the due process of law, as null and void, ab initio and set aside the same, in the interests of justice  He also requested the court to declare the impugned show cause notice dated 22-09-2020, based entirely on the report of the Inquiry Committee, as null and void, ab inito and set aside the same, on the well settled principle, propounded upon time and again by the Supreme Court, as follows “if foundation of an action was void, then superstructure built thereon had to fall.”