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July 31, 2020

No limits on SAPMs numbers, dual status: IHC

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July 31, 2020


ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) Thursday ruled that there was no restriction on appointing dual nationality holders as SAPMs and the prime minister had the authority to appoint special assistants and to determine their status and functions.

Hearing a petition seeking disqualification of SAPMs for having dual nationality, Chief Justice Athar Minallah asked how the system would perform if the prime minister was not even authorised to appoint his special assistants.

“Tell us where the Constitution says that special assistants cannot hold dual nationalities,” he asked the petitioner’s counsel Ikram Chaudhry. Justice Minallah said an elected prime minister carried heavy responsibilities. "What is wrong if the prime minister appoints someone for his help?" he remarked.

Akram Chaudhry pleaded that only five special assistants could be appointed under Article 93 of the Constitution. To this, Justice Minallah said this article was related to the appointment of advisers and not special assistants. Later the court issued an order stating, “It is pursuant to the said powers that the federal government has made the Rules of 1973 and has described the “Organizations of Divisions” in rule 4 ibid. Sub-rule 6 of rule 4 enables the prime minister to appoint special assistant or special assistants and to determine their status and functions.”

It said the premier was answerable to the nationals and the parliament and he is authorised to appoint officialsand other persons for assistance. There is no restriction on the number of special assistants by the prime minister, the order read.

The ruling said the importance and contributions made by the dual nationals could not be denied nor could their patriotism be doubted. ‘A Pakistani citizen holding dual nationality is not ineligible or barred from being appointed by the prime minister as a special assistant under rule 4(6) of the Rules of 1973.’

Later, the court dismissed the petition as it was devoid of merits. In another petition, seeking removal of President Arif Alvi from his post, Justice Minallah dismissed the petition and imposed Rs10,000 fine on the petitioner for wasting precious time of the court. In his decision, Justice Minallah said, “We will discourage unnecessary pleas before the court and dispose of such cases.”