IHC reinstates Sukhera as FTO.

Byline: SHAHID RAO

ISLAMABAD -- The Islamabad High Court (IHC) Thursday accepted a petition of Muhstaq Ahmad Sukhera setting aside the federal government's notification regarding his removal as Federal Tax Ombudsman (FTO).

A single bench of IHC comprising Chief Justice of IHC Justice Athar Minallah announced the decision in the petition of Mushtaq Sukhera challenging his removal from the post of FTO.

The court noted in its verdict, 'For what has been discussed above, this petition is allowed and consequently the impugned notification, dated 12-06-2019, is hereby set aside. The impugned notification was illegal and definitely issued in violation of the scheme of the Constitution, the Ordinance of 2000 read with the Act of 2013.'

The IHC bench added, 'Before parting, this Court cannot ignore the lack of care exercised by the Ministry of Law and Justice in initiating the summary dated 17-05-2019. The learned Attorney General could not give a plausible explanation regarding a different stance taken by the Ministry of Law and Justice in the case of the recently appointed Ombudsman under the Insurance Ordinance of 2000. The Ministry of Law and Justice was expected to have taken extraordinary care while initiating the summary because what had been proposed had serious consequences for an essential salient feature of the Constitution i.e parliamentary form of government and democracy, besides the independence of a statutory adjudicatory public office.'

Moreover, the verdict said that the Ministry of Law and Justice was proposing a course of action based on interpretation of section 3(1) of the Ordinance of 2000 which was a drastic departure from the interpretation that had led to appointments made from time to time for almost two decades.

The Ministry, as well as the learned Attorney General, could not give a satisfactory answer regarding the fate of the orders passed and convictions handed down for contempt by successive Tax Ombudsmen since the promulgation of the Ordinance of 2000 almost two decades ago if the appointments were to be treated as void ab initio.

Taking extraordinary care and exercising extreme caution was inevitable...

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