The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Tuesday declared the appointment notifications of National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) Chairman Board of Directors (BoD) Muhammad Zubyr Soomro and President Arif Usmani illegal.
Syed Jahangir, Javed Iqbal, Fazal Raheem, and Latif Qureshi have invoked the jurisdiction of IHC challenging the appointments while assailing the government’s notifications of 2019 in the matter.
A single-member bench comprising Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kiyani has reserved the verdict on June 11 in response to the four identical petitions which he announced during the course of the day on Tuesday.
In August 2019, the PTI government had appointed Arif Usmani as new CEO and President of the NBP against the slot which was lying vacant since August 28, 2018 after the government suspended former president Saeed Ahmad in response to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) over his alleged involvement in a money laundering case. Likewise, in April 2019 Muhammad Zubyr Soomro was appointed as chairman of BoD of the NBP for three years.
During the hearing of the arguments of petitioners counsel the court raised the question how Soomro had been appointed as chairman NBP when thousands of eligible bankers were available. The NBP’s counsel stated before the court that the State Bank had recommended the name to the federal government. The court sought a record from the finance ministry and reserved the decision.
Earlier, Usmani’s counsel, Ahmed Bilal Sufi contended before the bench that the NBP had earned good profit under stewardship of the current president citing a research of The Wall Street Journal which noted that physics graduates are successful in every field.
To which Justice Kiyani has remarked that if a degree has no connection with a field then a judge could also be appointed as a bank head. Advocate Dr. G.M Chaudhry, the counsel for Latif Qureshi has supplemented Justice Kiyani remarks saying then there were also other people who had topped in physics, adding that this had also violated their rights as they were also entitled to give an application for the post in the same way.
Dr. G. M. Chaudhry apprised the bench that under the provisions of the Banks Nationalization Act, 1974, a person shall not be eligible for appointment as the Chairman, the President, or a member of the Board if he is not a citizen of Pakistan which excludes persons having citizenship of any other country. After a brief hearing of the matter, the bench reserved the verdict and directed the Federal Finance Ministry to produce records relating to appointments of the NBP president and chairman.
Terming the petitions based on malafide intentions Soomro’s counsel made a point that no petitioner is an affected party in the matter in hand. Defending his client, one of the petitioner’s counsel Advocate Waqar Naqvi argued that any person is competent to file a petition in any case as per the constitution. He claimed there is a new cause of action every day in illegal appointments, while Transparency International Pakistan (TIP) has reported corruption in the bank.
When reading out the transcript of Usmani’s interview in the court, another counsel in the case, Advocate Shahid Kamal claimed Usmani had shared his CV with Asad Umar saying the NBP president has also admitted it many times. It has been reported that Federal Minister Asad Umar has appointed Arif Usmani as President of NBP; he was his chum whereas Arif Usmani has admitted in a video clip.
The writer heads a leading news wire service ‘The Law Today Pakistan’ commonly known as TLTP. He has a special focus on news relating to superior courts adjudication, access to right of information, civil, political, social and economic rights under the approach that existing cyber regime realization ensures procedural fairness in administrative law. He can be reached at email@example.com