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ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) Tuesday issued notice to the federal government and respondents to file a reply on inclusion of advisors of prime minister in the Cabinet Committee on Privatization (CCoP).

Justice Amir Farooq of IHC heard the petition that advisors do not take oath under the Constitution; therefore, they are not custodians of the Constitution and democracy.

Rana Iradat Sharif Khan, MNA from Pakpattan, has challenged the notification No.F.5/6/2018-com issued on April 25, 2019 by the Cabinet Division, in which Prime Minister Imran Khan reconstituted the Cabinet Committee on Privatization (CCoP) and included Dr Abdul Hafeez Sheikh, Advisor on Finance, Abdul Razzak Dawood, Advisor on Commerce and Dr Ishrat Hussain, Advisor on Institutional Reforms, who are not elected and are not members of the Parliament.

The petitioner filed the petition through advocate Barrister Mohsin Nawaz Ranjha and cited Federation of Pakistan through secretary Cabinet Division, joint secretary Cabinet Division, Advisor to Prime Minister on Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs, Advisor to PM on Commerce, Textile, Industry and Production and Advisor to PM on Institutional Reforms and Austerity as respondents. The petitioner contended that it is the violation of Article 2A, 90, 91 and 92 of the Constitution.

He stated that the framers of the Constitution laid down in the Preamble a declaratory provision, which said; "The state shall exercise its powers and authority through the chosen representatives of the people" and "...shall form a federation wherein the units will be autonomous..."

The petitioner said that the federal cabinet consisted of ministers and the prime minister. The Article 92 of Constitution in categorical and emphatic terms says that the appointment of federal minister(s) and minister(s) of state shall be made from amongst the members of the Parliament. The clause (6) of Article 91 of Constitution provides that the "Cabinet, together with Ministers of State, shall be collectively responsible to the Senate and the National Assembly".

Most of the day-to-day work of the Cabinet is carried out by the Cabinet Committee and Rule 17(2) of Rules of Business, 1973, provides that the Committees of the Cabinet may be constituted and their terms of reference and membership laid down by the cabinet or by the prime minister.

He contended that the advisors cannot be equated with the federal ministers or ministers of state because; unlike ministers, advisors are not the part of the federal cabinet or the federal government. They do not make an oath. Unlike ministers, they are not collectively responsible to parliament in terms of Article 91(6) of the Constitution.

They are not subject to the qualification or disqualifications provided under Article 62 and 63 of the Constitution.

Before or after their appointment advisors are not bound to submit their statements of assets and liabilities (immoveable properties, moveable assets, assets bought out of remittances, investment, motor vehicles, jewellery, cash bank accounts, furniture fittings and article of personal use, assets transferred to any person or any other assets) to any authority and regulatory body. They are not subject to any kind of scrutiny, whatsoever, regarding their nationality, character or qualifications. If one is not qualified to become a member of the cabinet, can he be member of a committee of the cabinet, he has raised questions.