ISLAMABAD - The Islamabad High Court (IHC) Wednesday declared illegal a government notification dated July 15, 2003 of transferring administrative control of National Counter Terrorism Authority (Nacta) from prime minister to interior ministry.
A single bench comprising Justice Noorul Haq Qureshi set aside the notification putting Nacta under the administrative control of interior ministry instead of the prime minister and all the decisions taken consequential to the aforementioned notification.
The court also restored services of six Nacta officials who were sacked by Nacta National Coordinator Khawaja Ashraf Amir after issuance of July 15 notification when he was appointed as chief of the authority.
Justice Qureshi issued these directions while hearing the identical petitions filed against the transfer of Nacta from the administrative control of PM to interior ministry. One petitioner, Nacta Assistant Director Law Javed Iqbal, cited establishment division secretary, interior ministry, Nacta and PM Office through its secretary as respondents.
Javed Iqbal through his counsel Shoaib Shaheen advocate contended before the court that according to Section 3 of Nacta Act, it is an independent body answerable directly to the prime minister. He said Section 3 reads: Establishment of the Authority.——(1) As soon as may be, but not later than ninety days after the promulgation of this Act, the Federal Government shall, by notification in the official gazette, establish an Authority to be known as the National Counter Terrorism Authority Pakistan for carrying out the purposes of this Act;
(2) The Authority shall be an independent body answerable directly to the Prime Minister; (3) The Authority shall be a body corporate having perpetual succession and a common seal with powers, subject to the provision of this Act, to acquire and hold property, movable and immovable, and to sue and be sued by its name. The Authority shall have administrative and financial powers to carry out the functions of the Authority; (4) The headquarters of the Authority shall be at Islamabad and it may set up offices at such other places in Pakistan.
The petitioner informed the court that in accordance with the above provisions of the Nacta Act, two notifications dated April 10, 2013 and May 9, 2013 were issued, whereby authority was declared to be an independent body and directly answerable to the prime minister. He added that suddenly the impugned notification dated July 15, 2013 was issued, whereby the administrative control of Nacta was transferred to the ministry of interior in violation of the above-mentioned provisions of Nacta Act.
Javed argued that the July 15 notification is void ab initio, illegal, unlawful and has no legal effects. It is an established principle of law that no executive order can be passed against an act of parliament or law and if there is a conflict between the order/notification and the law, the law shall prevail and to that extent. He maintained that the impugned notification has been issued with mala fide intention. Therefore, he prayed to the court that the notification be declared as illegal, unlawful and in violation of the provisions of the Nacta Act, and it should be set aside.
Another petition against the appointment of Khawaja Ashraf Amir as national coordinator and Nacta’s Chief of Staff (COS) Nasir Akbar Khan is still pending adjudication before the IHC. The same petitioner and law officer of the authority challenging the appointments of the said two officers maintained that NC is a Grade 22 post while Khawaja Amir was a Grade 20 officer while COS is a Grade 20 post and Nasir Akbar being Grade 18 officer could not hold the position.