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ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC), Friday, sought reply from members of the National Assembly Special Committee on Affected Employees, in a contempt petition, filed by the EOBI alleging unlawful interference in an executive matter.

A single bench of Chief Justice Aamer Farooq issued the notices while hearing a contempt of court petition moved by the Employees’ Old-Age Benefits Institution (EOBI) through advocate Barrister Umer Ijaz Gillani.

During the hearing, counsel for EOBI submitted before the Court that the National Assembly’s Committee’s decision to issue a show-cause notice to the institution’s chairperson amounts to clear contempt of the court.

He maintained that the EOBI is a statutory body which is under an obligation to comply with its own statute; it cannot meet the political demands being made of it.

The petitioner stated that the separation of powers between the legislative and executive branches of the state is a fundamental tenet of our Constitution; if this principle is not honoured, no institution would be able to perform its statutory roles.

After hearing the preliminary arguments, the IHC chief justice admitted the contempt petition for hearing and sought written comments from all the respondents within a fortnight. Later, the bench deferred the hearing till February 23 for further proceedings.

In the petition, the EOBI alleged that the Committee is trying to exert unlawful pressure on the statutory body to reinstate 358 terminated employees, who were terminated upon the orders of the Supreme Court of Pakistan in 2014 and whose Review Petition had also been dismissed.

Special Committee’s Chairperson, Qadir Mandokhail, its Secretary Tahir Farooq and 11 other Committee Members have been arrayed as respondents in the contempt petition filed by EOBI through Barrister Umer Ijaz Gilani.

The petition said the background of the case is that back in 2014, the EOBI had terminated the services of some 358 employees on the orders of the Supreme Court of Pakistan. This termination was challenged by the terminated employees but was upheld by the courts all the way to the Supreme Court which settled the matter in 2016. However, recently, a National Assembly Special Committee on Affected Employees has been set up.

It added that the Special Committee, which actually can give its recommendations as per rules, has been holding meetings with the federal ministries and Heads of Statutory Bodies and issuing directives for the reinstatement started of earlier terminated employees.

On 27th December 2022, the committee issued a directive to the EOBI ordering reinstatement of the 358 employees; terminated by the EOBI on the orders of the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

The counsel said that later, the EOBI Board decided to challenge the Committee’s decision/direction in the IHC. He added that while hearing the EOBI’s writ petition on 13th January 2023, Chief Justice Aamir Farooq of the IHC issued an injunction restraining the Committee from taking any further action on the matter.

However, he continued that the Special Committee paid no heed to the stay order and, on 8th February 2023, proceeded to issue a show-cause to chairperson EOBI for non-implementation of its earlier direction/decision dated December 27, 2022, and this compelled the EOBI to file a contempt petition.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023


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