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Appointment of PM's advisers, SAPMs: SC rejects petition, uphelds IHC's verdict

  • Petitioner contended that the government has an army of advisers and special assistants
  • Justice Ahsan says there is no bar over appointments of the SAPMs and advisers
18 Dec 2020

(Karachi) Supreme Court has rejected a petition pertaining to the appointment of prime minister's special assistants and advisers and upheld an Islamabad High Court verdict in the matter, media reported on Friday.

The decision was made by a two-member bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed and Justice Ijazul Ahsan.

Lawyer Ikram Chaudhry had moved the apex court against the appointments of special assistants and advisers by Prime Minister Imran Khan.

During the hearing, Justice Ahsan observed that the top court had laid down rules related to appointment of special assistants and advisers in a case pertaining to the appointment of Sayed Zulfiqar Bukhari.

Chaudhry said the current petition did not concern dual nationalities. "The government has an army of advisers and special assistants."

Justice Ejazul Ahsan said the matter of SAPMs and advisers with dual nationality was taken up in the Islamabad High Court. There is no bar over appointments of the SAPMs and advisers, he added.

The CJP said that the court has already given its verdict in the Zulfi Bukhari appointment case. Justice Ahmed said the bench will explain why this petition was being dismissed in the detailed judgment.

The SC disposed off the petition and maintained IHC’s verdict in the case.

IHC judgment

The judgment noted that Article 93 of the Constitution allows the prime minister to appoint up to five advisors and conferring of a federal minister status on an advisor is "only for the purpose of perks and privileges" and "does not make the advisor a federal minister as such".

It further ruled that the advisor to the premier is not a member of the cabinet, cannot participate in the proceedings hence can also not be a member or even chair a committee cabinet. "He can address the Parliament but cannot participate in the voting process."

On the matter of special assistants, the judgment stated that the post is not provided per se in the Constitution but Rules of Business have been framed under Article 99 of the Constitution and Rule 4(6) allows the prime minister to appoint special assistants and confer upon them "such status as he/ she deems appropriate".

However, the judgment explains that conferring the status of minister of state would make special assistant a person of that designation. The status is only "for the purpose of perks and privileges".

The special assistants to the premier are by no means members of the cabinet as they are not elected persons and/ or federal ministers.

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