ISLAMABAD

Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) senior leader Khawaja Muhammad Asif on Monday challenged the transfers/postings and shuffling of high officials by the caretaker government.

Submitting a constitutional petition under Article 184 (3) of the Constitution, the PML-N leader has requested the Supreme Court to declare the acts of caretaker government in effecting the transfers/postings and shuffling null and void, void ab initio and of no legal effect being in contravention of the Constitution, constitutional conventions and law.

Making respondents to the federation through secretary cabinet division and caretaker prime minister, the petitioner also prayed the court to declare the all postings/transfers and shuffling be reversed and the status quo ante be reverted to the position, when the caretaker government was sworn in.

He requested the apex court to direct the caretaker government to refrain from effecting any further appointments/transfers/shuffling during their remain tenure.

Giving details of the transfers and postings, he told that Chairman National Highway Authority, Hamid Ali Khan, was replaced, on May 16, by Sajjad Hussain Baloch; Chairman NEPRA was replaced, on the same day and Justice (retd) Ahmad Khan Lashari has been appointed; Managing Director SNGPL, Arif Hameed was replaced, on May 15, 2013 by Amin Tufail; Managing Director SSGCL was replaced on March 15, 2013, by Rahat Kamal Siddiqui; Managing Director, Pakistan Mineral Development Corporation, Khalid Khokhar was replaced by Saifullah Khan. Chairman, National Fertilizer, Rizwan Mumtaz Ali was removed on May 09, 2013; Managing Director, Oil and Gas Development Corporation, Masood Siddiqui was removed on May 06, 2013; Chairman, State Life Corporation was removed on May 16, 2013; Chairman, Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation has reportedly been removed and an another appointed in his stead.

Khawaja contended that the Chairman, Pakistan Software Export Board has been removed and in his stead Saleem Ahmed Ranjha has been appointed who is a direct inductee of former Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gillani.

He said that the Director General, FIA, who was appointed one month back, is also reportedly in the process of being replaced, adding that certain employees/officers of the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority have reportedly been removed from service without following the procedure as set out under the relevant statute.

Khawaja further contended that reportedly many other mid level staff of such like aforesaid corporations/ bodies have been shuffled/transferred/removed.

The PML-N leader contended that constitutional conventions command and mandate that the caretaker government is empowered only to conduct free and fair elections, despite there being no bar in the Constitution or law circumventing their powers.

"The state has been mandated under Article 2A of the constitution to exercise its powers and authority through the chosen representatives of the people and would such power not, in fact be rendered nugatory, if the aforesaid actions of the caretaker government are not set aside and / or declared unconstitutional", he added.

Khawaja Asif also submitted that if the unconstitutional and illegal appointments are allowed to continue, can the new democratically elected government be held responsible as to the principles of state policy.

He questioned that whether the new democratically elected government, National Assembly and Senate would be responsible in terms of it policy, when the appointments to key institutions have already been made by the caretaker government in a mala fide manner in attempting to usurp the mandate of new democratically elected government.

"Whether the actions of caretaker government are not a colourable exercise of power and further mala fide in attempting to steal a march and pre-empt the democratic mandate granted by the people who have demanded quick deliverance to their problems," he added.

Khawaja Asif said that the acts of caretaker government are against the norms of neutrality, impartiality detachment and devotion to duty to carry on day to day affairs of the state without keeping in view of personal interests or those of any political party which are a sine qua non for any caretaker cabinet government.

The petitioner said that his fundamental rights were breached and if the acts of caretaker government were not reversed then newly elected government would not be able to deliver upon the policies.