ISLAMABAD - The Islamabad High Court (IHC) Monday suspended arrest warrants issued by Federal Tax Ombudsman (FTO) Dr Shoaib Suddle in contempt of court proceedings against Auditor General of Pakistan (AGP) Muhammad Akhtar Buland Rana.
Justice Noor-ul-Haq N Qureshi issued these orders in the matter while functioning as a referee judge. The judge also issued notice to FTO Dr Shoaib and referred AGP Rana’s intra-court appeal (ICA) back to the IHC division bench comprising Justice Riaz Ahmad Khan and Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui.
It is pertinent to mention here that aforementioned division bench of IHC had expressed a difference of opinion in suspending the said arrest warrants on June 13 as Justice Riaz Ahmad Khan was in favour of suspending them while Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui expressed his dissention.
Saeed Khursheed Advocate representing AGP Rana maintained before the court that according to the ministry of law notification, only the judges of Supreme Court and their staff were entitled to receive the special judicial allowance (SJA) and the FTO did not fall into this category.
He added that the FTO was claiming SJA under a notification dated June 13, 2009 whereas the AGP had raised audit objections due to a notification dated March 03, 2010. Therefore, the AGP office had recommended to the controller general of accounts to stop the SJA to FTO in January this year while pointing out the said thing in audit objection. He continued that it was the reason that the FTO had issued contempt notices to the petitioner on March 8, 2013 under section 16 of the FTO Ordinance 2000.
The counsel told the court that according to section 4 of the Establishment of FTO Ordinance 2000 Dr Suddle’s un-extendable four year tenure of service had expired on June 6, 2013. He contended that the FTO illegally issued arrest warrants against the AGP despite expiry of his tenure.
Advocate Khurshid told the court that the AGP office under article 168, 171 of the Constitution and section 7 could validly raise similar objections during the certification of accounts. He further said that subsequently, the arrest warrant of the AGP in contempt of court proceedings under section 16 of the Establishment of FTO Ordinance 2000 is itself violation of his lawful mandate provided in the preamble of the FTO Ordinance.
He alleged that the respondent acted mala-fide as judge on his own cause. The FTO being statutory functionary acted mala fide and issued contempt notice to the petitioner merely on the basis of vague allegation that some subordinate had leaked the matter of stoppage of payment of his SJA to the media.
Before that, the counsel for Dr Suddle, Asif Vardag Advocate argued before the court that the AGP wanted his entitlement for the SJA but the authorities concerned denied his request. After this, the AGP started campaign against those who were drawing the said allowance and also started leaking the information to the media persons to defame the FTO. He said that because of media trial, the AGP tried to lower the dignity of the FTO office for which Dr Suddle initiated contempt proceedings against him and after repeated absence of the AGP, the FTO issued arrest warrants to procure his (AGP) attendance in the court.