ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) ruled that the prime minister’s special assistants and advisors are not members of the cabinet and should thus not be part of cabinet proceedings.
The prime minister’s special assistant is not a state minister or a federal minister, but rather holds the status for the purposes of rewards and privileges. He does not address parliament, nor does he have any executive power. He is also not a member of the cabinet and cannot engage in its proceedings,’ claimed the IHC in its comprehensive order.
The petition against the hiring of 15 special assistants was dismissed by a thorough ruling – 23 pages long – and IHC Judge Justice Amir Farooq penned the verdict.
The court also ruled that the prime minister’s overall number of advisors could be reduced to five.
The court, however, claimed that “undoubtedly, individuals may be called in by the committee on special requests, but no person may be the chairman or a member of the cabinet committee who is not a member of the cabinet.”
Again the conferment of the rank of federal minister to an advisor is only for the reason of rewards and rights, and as a federal minister, the conferment does not render a person/adviser, the order reads.
The information appeared in an IHC written order setting aside a notification of the Cabinet Division on Monday by which Prime Minister Imran Khan re-constituted the Cabinet Committee on Privatization (CCoP) and made its chairman and two other advisors, Abdul Razak Dawood and Dr Ishrat Hussain, members of CCoP, his finance advisor Abdul Hafeez Shaikh.
Through the judgement, the division bench of IHC, including Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Ghulam Azam Qambrani, ruled unlawful the appointments of three PM advisors as chairman and CCoP members.
Through his lawyer, Mohsin Shahnawaz Ranjha, another PML-N official, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) MNA Rana Iradat challenged the inclusion of advisers in the cabinet committee and argued that only elected members of the people had the right to rule the region.
Through the notification released on April 25, 2019, the prime minister named his finance and revenue adviser as chairman and included his trade and investment adviser Abdul Razak Dawood and his structural reform and austerity adviser Dr Ishrat Hussain as members.
PM Imran, according to the notification, had named as representatives of the CCoP Minister of Communications Murad Saeed, Minister of Law and Justice Farogh Naseem, Minister of Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar, Minister of Privatisation Mohammadmian Soomro and Minister of Power Omar Ayub Khan.
Since, among other items, CCoP deliberated on important issues such as the privatisation of the Roosevelt Hotel, the properties of Pakistan International Airlines and other government-owned organisations, the petitioner also called for a stay in the proceedings of the Cabinet Committee.