LAHORE - The government has not framed rules for appointment of Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) chairman more than three years after a court ordered to do so.
In April 2014, the Lahore High Court directed the Federation and the religious affairs secretary to notify the rules within three months. But authorities submitted the copy of rules after years, which the court rejected.
ETPB Chairman Siddiqul Farooq says there is a “misconception about representation of the federal government as rules were approved by the Establishment Division, whereas the court was of the view that just Cabinet Division could represent the federation”.
“After vetting and amending the rules, the law ministry has sent the same to Cabinet Division and at next hearing the rules would be submitted to the court,” he added. A petitioner, Ali Aslam, alleged ETPB Chairman Siddiqul Farooq was holding the public office illegally. He told the court that the board chief had a political background and belonged to the ruling party.
Farooq defended his appointment, saying: “Some corrupt elements in my department are involved in such type of litigation.” The ETPB chief has also faced charges of costing millions of rupees to national exchequer during his two-year term as chairman of the House Building Finance Corporation.
The petitioner told the court that appointment of Farooq was made in violation of all provisions of the existing rules and regulations.
It is also claimed before the court that the sitting chairman was ‘overage’ under the existing rules as at the time of appointment he was above 67 while prescribed age was 62.
Farooq says: “When court asked me about the tenure of board members and my qualification, I replied three years and graduation from the University of Punjab, respectively.”
Citing exiting laws, the petitioner told the court that the board made no mandatory advertisements – either in newspapers or on the board’s official website – to seek applications for the top slot and also raised question about qualification of the ETPB chairman.
Farooq says: “When my appointment was challenged in court, the deputy attorney general read the relevant rules before the court.”
Ali Aslam told the court the federal government set up the board under the Evacuee Trust Property (Management and Disposal) Act 1975 and for the appointment of its chairman Terms and Conditions of Appointment Rules 2014 have been made under the Provisions of Section 28 of the Act. He added as per the provisions of Sub-Section 4 of Section 3, the appointment of the chairman will be made by the federal government on these terms and conditions.
“For the assistance of this honourable court, the provisions of Sub-Section 4 of the Section 3 is reproduced as the Chairman shall be appointed by the federal government on such terms and conditions,” Aslam Ali said.
He added: “The bare reading of these provisions clearly reveals that appointment of the chairman be made according to the determined/prescribed terms and conditions and, for this purpose the rules have also been framed under Section 28 and approved by the federal government as well. “It is also mentioned in Sub-Rule (4) of Rule 4, the Selection Committee shall conduct interviews of shortlisted candidates and recommend a panel of suitable candidates to the federal government within three working days of concluding the interviews or such period as may be fixed by the federal government.
“As mentioned in Rule 4, the only persons shall be considered for the appointment of chairman who fulfills the conditions set in the schedule what make mandatory the 62-year age limit, professional experience including at least five years at the top management level in PSE.”
It is submitted the rule 4 determines/provides the criteria for the appointment of the chairman according to which advertisement of the post in the two leading Urdu and English newspapers and uploading the vacancy on official website for seeking applications from the eligible candidates is mandatory.
It is also mentioned in the rule that no person shall be considered for the appointment unless he, subject to Sub-Rule (i) of Rule 3, fulfills the conditions set in the Schedule.
The petitioner said the sitting chairman is ineligible for the post as such he “shall be seized to hold present positions, hence the kind indulgence of this Honourable Court is requested for the issuance of writ of quo warranto”. The court will resume hearing on January 21.