Era of judicial activism over, says CJP

Our Correspondent
Thursday, Jun 23, 2022

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court Wednesday directed the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to submit details of people responsible for violating its order regarding appointments in the Old-Age-Benefits Institution (EOBI)

A three-member bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice Umer Ata Bandial and comprising Justice Yahya Afridi and Justice Ayesha A Malik, was hearing a contempt of court case as well as non-implementation of its order of Jan 21, 2011, restraining appointments in the EOBI.

During the hearing, Chief Justice Umer Ata Bandial said that the court’s order was violated, hence they had to look into as to who had violated its order. He remarked that the case belongs to the time judicial activism was at its peak but now that era was over, and every decision would be taken in accordance with the law.

Justice Yahya Afridi said that the report submitted to the court did not carry a complete list of violators of the court’s order. Justice Ayesha A Malik inquired about the NAB reference, adding that recruitment had been made since 2009.

Aitazaz Ahsan, counsel for former opposition leader and incumbent Water and Power Minister Syed Khursheed Shah, submitted that Shah was not the federal minister when recruitment had been made. “How Khurshid Shah could be liable to contempt in the NAB case,” Aitazaz Ahsan questioned.

The CJP, however, said that the court had restrained the EOBI from making appointments in 2011, adding that despite its order illegal recruitment had been made in the EOBI from September 2011 to May 2012.

The CJP said that the NAB had provided a report mentioning the names of persons who had tried to influence recruitment and the name of Syed Khursheed Shah was also there in the report.

The chief justice said that at the moment, they were seeking a report from the NAB as to who were responsible for violating its order, adding that if contempt had been made, those would be proceeded against. The CJP said that they wanted to proceed only against those who had committed contempt not against all.

The court directed the NAB to submit a report mentioning the role of the accused persons. Meanwhile, the court gave the last chance to the NAB for submitting complete report about the accused responsible for violating its order and adjourned the matter for a month. In 2014, the court had decided to initiate contempt proceedings under Article 204 of the Constitution against those found guilty of violating its order of January 21, 2011, imposing a ban on employment.

The apex court, in its judgment, had declared all appointments, deputations and absorption in the EOBI as of no legal effect, thus terminating the services accordingly. Similarly, the verdict had also held that all available vacancies in the EOBI should be advertised and filled afresh strictly in accordance with applicable rules and regulations.

However, some 238 employees had been appointed in the Employees Old-age Benefits Institution (EOBI) during the period between September 2011 and May 2012 despite a court ban. During the hearing of the contempt case held June 16, 2016, NAB’s special prosecutor had told the Supreme Court that Khursheed Shah was the minister for labour and manpower from March 31, 2008 to May 2011 and during that period the court order had been violated.