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  • Apr 9th, 2013
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The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday suspended an Establishment Division notification regarding the appointment of Ali Arshad Hakeem as the Chairman of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR). Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui of IHC through an interim order annulled the notification dated July 10 last year. The court also barred Ali Arshad Hakeem to work as the FBR chairman till final adjudication on the matter.

The court adjourned the hearing till second week of April. Member inland revenue service Muhammad Ashfaq Ahmad, a grade 19 officer, had challenged the qualifications of the FBR Chairman. The petitioner had sought disqualification of Hakeem through a writ petition, while the Chairman was seeking interim relief on the suspension of his appointment notification.

Barrister Zafaullah, the counsel for the petitioner, told media persons that the respondents' - the establishment division, FBR and the deputy attorney-general (DAG) -had on March 7 sought more time to submit their replies. The respondents did not submit their reply and told the court that the petitioner Ashfaq had filed another petition against them and they would file a joint reply on both pleas. The petitioner's counsel informed that his client had filed the other petition against the recommendations of Central Selection Board (CSB). Both the petitions had nothing in common, he maintained. The IHC bench then issued the above said orders.

The petitioner pleaded before the court that Hakeem had been appointed as the chairman of the FBR on July 10 last year and later he was appointed as the secretary of the revenue division on July 30. The petitioner told the court that the incumbent chairman FBR lacked seniority while there were as many as half a dozen officers of IRS and Pakistan customs service who were already in BS-22, and heading various Ministries/ Divisions/institutions, they had spent their entire lives developing expertise in an otherwise difficult profession.

The position of the Chairman FBR and Secretary Revenue Division were purely civil service /cadre positions and these cannot be filled in by a non-cadre person. He also contended that these posts were too pivotal to be left open for persons from the private sector and that too without any cogent reasons and open competition. Moreover, the post was not advertised in newspapers, the petitioner maintained.

The petitioner told the court that Hakeem was a former civil servant who joined the customs group, but after a few years he resigned from the service. Had he continued his service, he would have been still in BS-19 as his batch mates were in Grade-19 and serving in FBR.

Hundreds of serving officers of the customs group and Inland Revenue Service (IRS) were senior to the incumbent chairman of FBR, but have been put under his command against the fundamental principles of merit, standing and seniority in letter and spirit. The petitioner told the court that the said act had caused unease, anxiety, demoralisation and despondency in the FBR and it was the cause of the existing shortfall of nearly Rs 200 billions in achieving the revenue targets. The petitioner also told the court that Hakeem's appointment was not in accordance with the intent and purport of the Section 3 of the Federal Bureau of Revenue Act of 2007 because he lacked experience, educational qualification requisite for the due performance of the functions of the said office.

The petitioner said that the summary for the Prime Minister contained only one name while normally three names were suggested with comparative qualifications, adding that the summary did not mention the peculiar skills, expertise, qualifications needed to head the revenue function of the state. Hakeem had previously been heading NADRA which was also a qualitative statement and "does not give anybody competence to head FBR", he added.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2013

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