–Outgoing PRCS chairman had challenged Abrarul Haq’s appointment alleging ‘conflict of interest’ and ‘nepotism’
ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday suspended a notification issued last week announcing the appointment of singer-turned-politician Abrarul Haq as the chairman of the Pakistan Red Crescent Society (PRCS).
IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah was hearing a petition filed by outgoing PRCS Chairman Dr Saeed Elahi against Haq’s appointment.
Elahi was appointed by the PML-N government as the PRCS chairman in 2014 and granted an extension for another term in 2017. Last week, he was removed by President Alvi, who, by law, is the patron of the Society.
According to PTI officials, Elahi was removed for openly criticising the government, adding that he had been accused of corruption and nepotism during his two successive tenures.
Elahi, on the other hand, said that his removal was illegal because he had “neither completed his tenure nor was there any cogent reason” to remove him from the position.
Elahi had challenged Haq’s appointment in the court on November 16 on the grounds of conflict of interest and nepotism. He argued that the appointment of a new chairman is illegal before the completion of his tenure, which ends in March 2020.
He further said that Haq’s appointment was also in direct conflict with the organisation’s interest as the PTI stalwart not only runs a hospital and private college but also collects donations for his NGO Sahara For Life Trust. He urged the court to “declare the notification [of Haq’s appointment] as void, illegal, unjust, without lawful authority, arbitrary and against the law”.
In his petition, Elahi said that under the rules of PRCS, the management body had the power to make appointments. He further said that the chairman of PRCS can only be removed before the completion of the term if they submit their resignation to the president.
Elahi added that his removal was also in violation of the fundamental rights provided in the Constitution, according to which “no one can be condemned unheard”.
Attorney General of Pakistan Anwar Mansoor Khan, who appeared before the court today even though the court had not issued him a notice, in his arguments said that Elahi had not challenged his removal.
“Two separate notifications were issued to notify the removal and the new appointment. It is surprising that he got the notification of the new appointment but not of his own removal,” Mansoor said, adding: “If the president has the authority to make appointments, he also has the authority to remove [employees].”
The court suspended the notification of Haq’s appointment and issued notices to President Arif Alvi, secretary cabinet division, secretary national health service and Haq, all of whom have been named as respondents, and demanded a written response. The hearing was adjourned until Nov 29.