SC shows the door to OGRA chief

supreme court of pakistanISLAMABAD: A three-member Supreme Court bench on Friday struck down the appointment of Tauqir Sadiq as the chairman of the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA), ordering him to return all salaries and privileges he drew from the public exchequer in course of his service as the OGRA chairman.

The bench of Justice Mian Shakirullah Jan, Justice Jawwad S Khawaja and Justice Khilji Arif Hussain said in its unanimous verdict that Sadiq’s appointment was illegal and void ab initio.The court ordered immediate de-notification of Sadiq’s appointment as the OGRA chief, besides directing the government not to leave the post vacant. The judgement also took note of a number of serious corruption allegations leveled against Sadiq and observed that the allegations were worthy of a serious investigation.

The court directed NAB to submit a report to the court in this regard within a period of 45 days. The petition challenging Sadiq’s appointment was filed by Muhammad Yasin, an OGRA employee. Sadiq who is the brother-in-law of PPP leader Jehangir Badr, was appointed by the federal government to the post in July 2009.The court ruled that the criteria, expressly laid down in Section 3(4) of the OGRA Ordinance 2002, were violated by appointing Sadiq. Section 3(4) commands that the head of this independent institution must be a person who is an eminent professional of known competence and integrity. “Sadiq, against whom there are a number of corruption allegations, and who purports to have an LLM degree from a ‘fake degree-granting’ institution, the American University in London, was found falling short of the required standard,” the court held.

The court held that under the law and constitution, while the executive retained the power to make appointments, it had to exercise this power in a demonstrably fair and honest manner. The judgment outlines a three-pronged test for this which stresses objectivity, relevance and due diligence. Failing this test, appointments made by the executive will be invalid, and liable to be struck down upon judicial review,” the court ruled.The judgment stated that the process of appointing Sadiq as OGRA chief was fraught with serious irregularities. It pointed out that applicants were being selected and rejected in an arbitrary and lawless manner with little attention being paid to objective indicators of their ability and merit. – PT