PM stops member enforcement from exercising authority of PTA chairman

  • Declares orders given by member enforcement after retirement of former PTA chairman as illegal


ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has stopped Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) member (enforcement) from exercising the authority of chairman and declared the orders given by him after the retirement of former PTA chairman as illegal, it was learnt reliably.

Taking serious notice of exercising the authority of PTA chairman by a member (enforcement) and senior officials of the authority, PM has finally jumped in to stop this irregularity and violation of rules and declared that no one in is authorised to exercise the authority of PTA chairman.  With effect to PM’s directions, the orders/acts, especially transfers, postings and appointments made by the member and senior officials of PTA while exercising the authority of chairman, have been declared as null and void, said sources.

According to them, Cabinet Division in a letter to PTA Member Abdul Samad Khan has made it clear that exercise of authority by any member, vested in the chairman PTA, will be illegal and acts therein will be void. The division [cabinet] has also made it mandatory to seek PM’s approval prior to exercising the authority of the chairman.

It is worth mentioning that PTA currently has only one active member: Member Enforcement Abdul Samad, as PM Abbasi has rejected the extension of former chairman Dr Ismail Shah and member finance Tariq Sultan. Furthermore, member enforcement has so far been exercising the authority of chairman on his own without getting any notification from the federal cabinet.

Taking cognizance of the matter, Cabinet Division had earlier also declared the orders so far taken after the expiry of tenure PTA former chairman by senior officials of Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) as illegal. The division also advised the PTA to withdraw the orders issued by the authority, particularly after the expiry of the tenure of office of former chairman.

However, Abdul Samad Khan continued exercising the authority, which he was not empowered to.

While talking to Pakistan Today, Abdul Samad said that he was looking after the day to day affairs of PTA under the provision of section 3 (10) of the authority.

Moreover, Islamabad High Court (IHC) and an intra-court appeal during 2013 allowed the member to exercise the powers to run the affairs of PTA.

He further said that he will continue looking after the PTA till the federal government appoints a new chairman and member.

Samad also said that the Cabinet Division’s orders surprised him as court orders have already clarified the provisions given in section 3(10) of the authority. “I will respond to Cabinet Division over its order soon,” he added.

Sources said that though the PTA lacks the quorum and has become dysfunctional senior officials, however, used powers to run the affairs of PTA. Besides that, many postings and appointments of blue-eyed on lucrative slots were made at a time when PTA only had one member out of the three, sources added.

The sources further informed that contingency staff and daily wagers have been hired in PTA allegedly without following any procedure. They said member enforcement has dissolved recruitment committee constituted by the former chairman and has started heading different committees himself.

Furthermore, the member has ordered transfers and postings which can only be done by an active/regular chairman.

They added that he cannot assume administrative powers of chairman on his own as a notification of the federal cabinet is required in this regard.

It is worth mentioning that Ministry of Law and Justice had earlier issued an official memorandum on February 4, 2013, when asked regarding the powers of the authority entrusted to the PTA chairman.

“In view of the foregoing, it is clarified that PTA members cannot exercise the powers of the chairman, relating to administration and staff of the authority under section 3 (10) of the Pakistan Telecommunication (re-organisation) Act, 1996,” read the letter of Law and Justice Ministry.

It also said that a member can only exercise such power if he has been appointed the chairman of the authority by the federal government, under section 3 (3) of the act.