ISLAMABAD - The Islamabad High Court Tuesday extended stay or­ders against the federal government’s notification re­garding removal of Muhstaq Ahmad Sukhera as Federal Tax Ombudsman (FTO).

A single bench of IHC comprising Chief Justice of IHC Justice Athar Minallah conducted hearing of Mushtaq Sukhera’s petition challenging his removal from the post of FTO and extended the stay orders till August 8.

In its order, the IHC bench noted that it is the case of the federal government that appointment of FTO under section 3 of the Establishment of the office of FTO Or­dinance, 2000 exclusively vested in the President and it has been argued on behalf of the federal government that the appointment of the petitioner could not have been made on the advice of the Cabinet or the Prime Minister.

The additional attorney general argued before the court that the appointment of the petitioner as FTO was made on the advice of the Prime Minister and therefore, it was void and the President withdrew the notification of appointment of the petitioner because it was void.

The bench asked from the additional attorney general that whether the appointments made against the post of FTO on the advice of Prime Minister since promulga­tion of the Ordinance of 2000 were also void and if so then what would be the status of recommendations, or­ders passed or convictions and sentences handed down by the incumbents of the post of FTO since 2000.

The court also asked from him regarding the status of orders passed and other actions taken by the peti­tioner since his appointment in 2017 and it was also pointed out to the additional attorney general that if the stance taken by the federal government in case of the petitioner was to be accepted then it would have far reaching consequences for other appointments such as the persons appointed under the office of Wafaqi Mohtasib (Ombudsman) Order, 1983, the Insurance Or­dinance 2000, the Banking Companies Ordinance 1962 and the Protection against Harassment of Women at the Workplace Act, 2010. The court observed in its order: “The additional attorney general, despite his able assis­tance could also not persuade this court that in case of appointment of the Federal Tax Ombudsman, the Presi­dent is empowered to act in his discretion in the context of Article 48(2) of the Constitution.”