ISLAMABAD   -   The Islamabad High Court (IHC) Thursday extended its stay orders against Public Accounts Committee’s (PAC’s) recommendations to remove former chairman National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Justice (retd) Javed Iqbal as head of Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances. A single bench comprising Acting Chief Justice of IHC Justice Aamer Farooq conducted hearing of the petition filed by the former NAB chief Javed Iqbal who is also Chairman Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances. During the hearing, deputy attorney general Arshad Mehmood told the court that an inquiry commission had been set up into the matter.

At this, the IHC bench noted that the petitioner had challenged only the process of PAC.

Director General NAB Lahore also informed the bench that the PAC had summoned them again while former chairman NAB’s counsel Shoaib Shaheen said that the PAC was viewing the matters other than the accounts.

Then, the PAC’s lawyer requested the court to adjourn the case till next date. At this, the IHC bench directed the two sides to give arguments on next hearing and deferred the hearing till third week of September for further proceedings.

In this matter, the petitioner challenged Minutes of the Meeting of the Public Account Committee held on 07.07.2022 and the PAC decision to approach the Prime Minister for his removal as head of Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearance.

Javed Iqbal moved the petition through president Islamabad High Court Bar Association (IHCBA) Shoaib Shaheen Advocate and cited Federation of Pakistan through its Secretary Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs, Secretary, Ministry of Interior, Speaker through Secretary National Assembly, Chairman, Public Accounts Committee and additional secretary PAC as respondents.

In his petition, the former chairman NAB stated that vide impugned Minutes of the Meeting of the Public Account Committee held on 07.07.2022 in para 7 sub para (iv), wherein the followings direction inter alia have been issued which is reproduced here below for kind perusal of this court.

He quoted, “The PAC observed that a serious allegation has been leveled against the former Chairman, NAB who is also currently heading the Commission on Enforced Disappearance should not hold such office and decided to approach the PM to remove him from the post.”

He adopted the stance that all these directions are beyond the scope and ambit of the jurisdiction vested in the Public Accounts Committee as envisaged in Rule 198, 201(5), 202 and 203 of the rules of the Procedure and Conduct of Business in the National Assembly, framed under the provision of Article 67 of the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

The former chairman added that moreover, directions envisaged in the impugned Minutes of Meeting are evidently in contravention to the mandate of Law and the prescribed Rules of Procedure. “These violations are beyond jurisdiction and in complete oblivion to the due process of law and the rule of Law. They are not merely irregularities in procedure rather substantive contravention of the provision of the Constitution and applicable Law. It depicts the violation of Audi Alterum Portam in the complete obliteration of the principles of natural justice and the provision of the Constitution,” maintained the petitioner.

He further said that these directions are void nonest, ultra vires to the law and the oath, illegal and of no legal consequence whatsoever.

Therefore, he prayed to the court that this court may graciously be pleased to accept the instant writ petition and declare all actions, directions and proceedings under taken by the PAC in consequence of the impugned direction vide Minutes of Meeting dated 07.07.2022 as void, nonest, ultra vires, illegal and in excess of the respondents’ authority and jurisdiction consequently bearing no legal effect whatsoever on the principles of equity, fair play.

He also requested the court to grant mandatory injunction under its inherent and Constitution jurisdiction restraining the respondents from taking any action, direction and proceedings in peculiar circumstances of the interest of the instant case which surmounts to be of great public importance.