ISLAMABAD-The Islamabad High Court Friday suspended the federal government’s notification regarding removal of Muhstaq Ahmad Sukhera as Federal Tax Ombudsman.

A single bench of IHC comprising Chief Justice of IHC Justice Athar Minallah conducted hearing of Mushtaq Sukhera’s petition challenging his removal from the post of FTO and issued notices to the respondents by suspending the said notification.

In its order, the court noted: “Till the next date fixed, operation of the impugned notification shall remain suspended. However, the petitioner is restrained from performing his functions till the next date fixed.”

It added: “Let notice be issued to the respondents for filing report and para-wise comments within a fortnight. Notice is also directed to be issued to the learned Attorney General of Pakistan under Order XXVII-A of the code of civil procedure, 1908.”

Sukhera moved the court through his counsel Zainab Janjua Advocate and cited President of Pakistan through Secretary to the President, Prime Minister through Principal Secretary and Secretary of Law and Justice as respondents. In his petition, he assailed the notification dated June 12 whereby the President has withdrawn his notification of appointment against the post of FTO. His counsel contended before the court that the appointment and removal of the FTO is governed under the Establishment of the office of Federal Tax Ombudsman Ordinance, 2000 and the Federal Ombudsman Institutional Reforms Act, 2013.

She referred to section 6(2) of the Ordinance of 2000 and section 5 of the Act of 2013 in support of her contention that once the FTO has been appointed and the later has taken oath of office, his removal can only be made through the Supreme Judicial Council. Therefore, the petitioner prayed to the court to set aside the said impugned notification for being illegal and without jurisdiction. He also requested the court to restrain the respondents from interfering in the due performance and functioning of the petitioner as FTO.

The federal government had earlier removed Mushtaq Ahmed Sukhera from the post of FTO withdrawing the official notification for his appointment. Former Inspector General (IG) of Police in Punjab, Mushtaq Sukhera was appointed the FTO in August 2017 by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government.

The Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) led federal government had prepared a reference against the former IGP Punjab for his alleged failure to avert the 2014 tragedy in Lahore’s Model Town. The government had forwarded the reference to the Law Ministry.