ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court on Friday struck down the appointment of Tauqir Sadiq as chairman Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) and declared his appointment as illegal and void ab initio. In the judgment Mr Tauqir, brother-in-law of PPP General Secretary Jehangir Badr, has been ordered to return all the salary and privileges drawn from the public exchequer in the course of his service as the chairman. The judgment also noted that a number of serious corruption allegations levelled at Mr Sadiq and observed that the allegations were worthy of a serious investigation; therefore NAB was directed to submit a report in the apex court in this regard within a period of 45 days. The court also directed the NAB to probe the conduct of state functionaries, who were engaged in the process of his selection as chairman Ogra and submit the report regarding the matter. The apex court in its detailed judgment said the position of Ogra chairman would be considered vacant from the day of issuance of notification of his appointment on July 22, 2009 being head of the Ogra. It has also set aside the notification of his appointment. The Court also held that the fundamental rights of the people of Pakistan were in danger if improper appointments went on being made to key positions in autonomous regulatory bodies. The importance of these institutions for the economic life of the nation and its citizens is ever increasing. Therefore, the duty to secure the fundamental rights of the people cast on the Court by Article 184(3), obliges it to take cognisance of such matters. This is why the petitioners application was held maintainable. A three-member bench comprising Justice Shakirullah Jan, Justice Jawwad S Khawaja and Justice Khilji Arif Hussain has announced its verdict in a constitutional petition filed by Muhammad Yasin, an employee of Ogra. Justice Khawaja, who authored the judgment, has recorded the reasons for the Courts decision in detail. The foremost reason given is that this appointment violated the criteria laid down in section 3(4) of the Ogra Ordinance, 2002. The said section commands that the head of this independent institution must be a person who is an eminent professional of 'known competence and integrity. Mr Sadiq, against whom there are a number of corruption allegations, and who purports to have an LLM degrees from a 'fake degree-granting institution, the American University in London, was found falling short of the required standard. The judgment clarified the legal implications of Section 3(4) of the Ogra Ordinance and other similarly worded sections in statutes governing independent regulatory bodies. It has been held that under the law and the Constitution, while the executive retains power to make appointments, it has to exercise this power in a demonstrably fair and honest manner. The judgment outlines a three-pronged test for this which stresses objectivity, relevance and due diligence. Failing this test, appointments made by the Executive will be invalid, and liable to be struck down upon judicial review. The judgment closely examines the process followed during the appointment of Mr Sadiq. It finds the process fraught with serious irregularities. It points out that applicants were being selected and rejected in an arbitrary and lawless manner with little attention being paid to objective indicators of their ability and merit. Such was the incompetence and lack of probity in the selection process that during Mr Sadiqs four interviews and several short-listings, no one noticed the fake degree he was relying on, or the other unsubstantiated tall claims on his CV. The interviews of 17 candidates were all rushed in a single day, and a single field expert was deemed sufficient for examining the technical prowess of candidates from wide-ranging fields. Because of this, and a number of other short-comings pointed out in the judgment, the Court found the appointment process falling short of the required legal standards. One of the interesting features of the judgment is the wide range of references it contains. Other than reference to the Constitution, statutes and precedent cases, which are usual in such judgments, it also quotes the 11th century Persian political classics Siyasat-nama and Qabus-nama as well as couplets from Sheikh Saadi and Saaghar Siddiqui. Contemporary scholarly works on regulatory economics and constitutional law are also extensively cited.