Headless CDA: Confusion prevails as to who becomes CDA chief; a civil servant or Islamabad mayor?

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ISLAMABAD: Confusion prevails over who will become the CDA Chairman, a key post in the federal capital; a civil servant or Islamabad mayor as despite the passage of 23 days out of the 45 days given by Islamabad High Court (IHC), the federal government has failed to appoint anybody as CDA chief, which in turn is badly affecting the authorities’ work.

On December 29 last year, the IHC ruled that a civil servant cannot be appointed as CDA chief according to CDA’s amended ordinance, and in addition to that, the Islamabad mayor’s notification as part-time CDA chairman and ex-officio member by the federal government is also illegal.

Following which the Capital Administration and Development Division (CADD) ministry following IHC orders placed a summary before the cabinet, barring the government from appointing any civil servant to the post of CDA chairman, to make changes to the ordinance and pave a way for appointing civil servants for the said post.

Subsequently, the federal cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi had approved an amendment in CDA’s 1960 ordinance moved by the CADD minister and permitted civil servants to be appointed for the post.

Although PM Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, PM’s principal secretary Fawad Hassan Fawad and CADD minister Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhary have been mulling on to who can be appointed for the position in compliance with the IHC’s deadline of 45 days, so far, despite the passage of 23 days, they have failed to ‘get on the same page’ and appoint somebody.

On the other hand, Mr Aziz went before the IHC last Thursday and challenged his removal as part-time chairman of CDA before the IHC, twenty days after the IHC’s verdict.

The court has demanded a reply from stakeholders who have had further delayed the appointment process and have created a confusion in the federal government circles.

“Till the IHC’s decision for Mr Aziz’s appeal; the federal government will not appoint a CDA chief only because Mr Aziz is the ‘Sharifs’ good books and a friend of ousted premier Nawaz Sharif,” said sources in the establishment division.

“There is a chance that the court will give him [Mr Aziz] relief and issue a stay order and permit for him to go on as the CDA chief until a decision is taken by a division bench of the IHC,” they said.

Mr Aziz in his appeal asked Justice Minallah’s Dec 29, 2017, judgment be set aside. He contended that the single bench had ignored certain facts while passing the verdict and that notifications of ex-officio member and CDA chairman were made in accordance with the law.

Moreover, in general, the establishment division proposes a summary consisting of bureaucrats names to be considered for approval by the prime minister, however, this time the establishment division has not proposed any name.

According to sources, Utility Stores Corporation Managing Director (MD) Mathar Niaz Rana and Establishment Division Deputy Secretary Waseem Mukhtar are being seriously considered for the designation by the PM’s office.

It is noted that the CDA chief’s post was vacant since the IHC removed Islamabad Mayor Sheikh Anser Aziz saying his appointment falls under ‘conflict of interest’ as he owns a construction company which has a record of working with the authority.

The court ruled that his appointment violated section 6 read with section 8 of the CDA Ordinance and law enunciated by the Supreme Court (SC).

Mr Aziz was appointed as a member of the CDA board through a notification issued by the federal government on Sept 6, 2016, and was also made the part-time chairman through another notification issued on the same day.

The court observed that both notifications were issued in violation of CDA Ordinance provisions and directed the federal government to initiate a selection process to zero down on an eligible person for a fixed term as specified under section 6(3) of the ordinance and his appointment as the chairman for a fixed five-year period.