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ISLAMABAD: The Lahore High Court (LHC) has issued notice to the president of Pakistan, the prime minister, and the secretary Law Ministry, in a constitutional petition challenging the process of appointment of Federal Ombudsperson without defining any basic qualification and eligibility criteria for their appointment.

It is learnt that a constitutional petition has been moved by Waheed Shahzad Butt advocate through international constitutional lawyer Muhammad Azhar Siddiqe in the LHC.

Azhar argued that a combined reading of the provisions of the FTO Ordinance, 2000 and the FOIRA, 2013 clearly manifests that the legislature, in its wisdom, has unambiguously, intended to ensure the independence of the office of the ombudsman and scope of removal of a person appointed under Section 3(1) of the Ordinance of 2000 and that too through the Supreme Judicial Council established under Article 209 of the Constitution.

The petitioner states in a writ petition that Ombudsperson is a public servant under Section 27 of the FTO Ordinance, 2000 and no specific criteria has been set for the appointment of Federal Ombudspersons; the same is not an honorary position, therefore the contents of Section 3 and 5 of the FTO Ordinance, 2000 are vague, a prime example of unstructured discretion and show that any appointment being made according to the aforementioned statute is in fact an act of favouritism and the same is treated as an honorary post whereas it is not.

Directions may be given to the respondents (president, PM, MOL) to halt any and all notifications of appointing the Tax Mohtasib or any other Ombudsperson as the same is a public servant and no specific criteria has been set for the appointment of Federal Ombudspersons; the same is not an honorary position, hence the same may be declared as ultra vires of various provisions of Constitution of Pakistan, 1973.

It is prayed that directions may kindly be given to the Respondents to immediately define/prescribe the basic qualification and eligibility criteria for appointment of Federal Ombudspersons under relevant subordinate legislation read with FOIRA, 2013, wherein, removal of ombudsperson has been clearly defined i.e., through the process of the Supreme Judicial Council established under Article 209 of the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, in the interest of justice, equity and fair-play.

Additionally, it is prayed that till the disposal of instant writ petition appointments on vacant posts may be filled after submitting the particulars of potential candidates before this High Court, to save the name of country and ultimately protect the interest of the citizens/institutions, the petitioner added.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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