ISLAMABAD - In a major blow to the ruling Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz), the Islamabad High Court (IHC) Friday restrained the government from making direct appointments in 28 public sector enterprises (PSEs).

Such appointments in the past were made on the whims of political masters who had ignored the directives of the apex court.

A single bench of IHC comprising Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui issued these directions on a petition of Barrister M Dawood Ghazanavi who had moved the court in this matter and challenged a notification of the federal government according to which about 28 public sector bodies were excluded from the purview of federal commission for selection of heads of public sector organisations (FCSHPSO).

Justice Siddiqui noted in his verdict, “At the very outset learned counsel for the respondents Hafiz SA Rehman Advocate submits that he contacted the federal law division who intends to approach the Supreme Court of Pakistan for seeking appropriate order/clarification with regard to judgement passed in Khawaja Muhammad Asif case of 2013. Therefore, instant writ petition may be disposed of.”

The judge further wrote, “The request is reasonable, hence instant writ petition is disposed of for the time being. However, the respondents are restrained from being taken any conclusive step in pursuance of impugned notification.”

Talking to The Nation, M Dawood Ghazanavi who had moved the court in this matter said that he contended before the court that his fundamental rights have been infringed upon through exclusion of some 28 public sector organizations from the purview of FCSHPSO.

He informed that these excluded organisations included National Insurance Company Limited, Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP), Pakistan Horticulture Development and Export Company, PIA, SECP, Competition Commission of Pakistan, ENAR Patrotech Services Private Limited, Pakistan Re-insurance Corporation, Pakistan Agriculture Storage & Services Corporation, National Construction Limited, Pakistan Industrial Development Corporation, Pakistan Steel Mills, National Fertilizer Corporation, State Engineering Corporation, National Fertilizer Corporation, Utility Stores Corporation of Pakistan, National Fertilizer Marketing Limited, Pakistan Television Corporation, Pakistan Software Export Board, Pakistan Mineral Development Corporation, Telephone Industries of Pakistan, Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation, Pakistan State Oil Ltd, Lakhra Coal Development Company, OGDCL, National Refinery Limited, Pak Arab Refinery Company, Sui Northern Gas Company Limited, Thar Coal Mining Company, Sui Southern Gas Company Limited and Railway Construction Pakistan Limited, National Power Construction Private Limited, National Engineering Services of Pakistan and National Transmission and dispatch Company.

Ghazanavi informed that the notification of government dated January 13 in this regard says, “In exercise of powers conferred in terms of para 07 of the establishment division notification dated July 22, 2013 and with approval of the prime minister, on exclusion of public sector companies registered with Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) under the Companies Ordinance 1984, the schedule to ED’s aforementioned notification is revised.”

The lawyer told the court that FCSHPSO is a completely independent federal body made in compliance with the directions of the Supreme Court of Pakistan in the judgement of Khawaja Muhammad Asif case to ensure transparency in the appointments of heads of statutory bodies, autonomous and semi-autonomous bodies, regulatory authorities and organisations established by or under the control of federal government.

He was of the view that in recent times the appointments of blue-eyed persons in the public sector organisations have caused huge loss to the national exchequer.

“For the prevention of such things to happen, FCSHPSO was established in the light of Supreme Court orders,” maintained the petitioner. He argued that exclusion of these public sector bodies would affect the general public as both the institutions directly related to the economic life of the country. Therefore, the petitioner had prayed to the court to set aside the notification.