ISLAMABAD-Islamabad High Court on Tuesday reserved verdict in a petition of Muhstaq Ahmad Sukhera challenging the government’s notification regarding his removal as federal tax ombudsman. A single bench of the IHC comprising Chief Justice IHC Justice Athar Minallah heard petition of Mushtaq Sukhera and reserved the decision after hearing arguments of both the sides. However, the IHC bench extended the stay orders till the final adjudication of this matter.

During the hearing, Attorney General Anwar Masnoor presented his arguments saying that Sukhera was not appointed as per rules of Federal Tax Ombudsman Ordinance 2000. In its previous order, the IHC bench had noted that it was the case of the federal government that appointment of FTO under section 3 of the Establishment of the office of FTO Ordinance, 2000 exclusively vested in the President and it had been argued on behalf of the federal government that the appointment of the petitioner could not have been made on the advice of the cabinet or the Prime Minister.

The additional attorney general argued before the court that the appointment of the petitioner as FTO was made on the advice of the Prime Minister and therefore, it was void and the President withdrew the notification of appointment of the petitioner because it was void. The court observed in its order, “The additional attorney general, despite his able assistance could also not persuade this court that in case of appointment of the FTO, the President is empowered to act in his discretion in the context of Article 48(2) of the Constitution.”

“The additional attorney general has requested that he may be given time for further assisting in the matter. There is no allegation of misconduct against the petitioner nor it is the case of the federal government that the latter is incapable of properly performing his duties,” said the bench in its order.

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.

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