Law ministry keen to hire favoured candidate as CDA chief legal adviser: report

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ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of Law and Justice is still keen to induct a lawyer as the chief legal adviser in the Capital Development Authority (CDA) even though the latter had recently refused to accept him on the post. After the CDA got a new boss a few days ago, the law ministry again asked the civic agency to ‘reconsider’ its decision on the appointment, according to a report by a private media outlet.

The ministry on January 15 issued a notification for the appointment of Hafiz Hafizur Rehman as the chief legal adviser in the CDA. Rehman is the son of a close friend of Barrister Zafarullah Khan, the special assistant to the prime minister on law and justice.

Though Chaudhry Mahmood Bashir Virk was sworn in as the federal minister for law and justice earlier last month, Khan still enjoys complete authority in the law ministry.

The CDA rejected the nomination of Rehman and through a letter on January 17 informed the law ministry that “there is no post/position for a chief legal advisor in CDA nor CDA has forwarded any recommendations regarding the appointment of above advocate [Rehman] as the chief legal advisor.”

The letter stated, “Due to non-availability of the CDA chairman, the CDA Board is not functioning, therefore, the services of Hafiz Hafizur Rehman as the chief legal advisor cannot be considered and not otherwise required by the CDA.”

The law ministry on January 31 wrote another letter to the civic agency reminding it to place the matter before the CDA board since it had recently got a new chairman, Usman Bajwa.

The ministry directed the law directorate of the CDA to place the matter before the CDA board to make a fresh nomination with 15 days reminding the civic agency that on February 13, 2012, the CDA had created the post of the chief legal adviser.

It also directed that the head of CDA’s legal team should be practising lawyer of the Supreme Court.

Interestingly, the law ministry’s directions are contradictory to its own policy/guidelines approved on June 3, 2015, for the appointment of legal advisers in government departments.

As per the policy, there is no prerequisite of practice in the SC. The policy said, “only those recommendations/nominations shall be considered by the committee for selection of legal advisor/panel advocates” which are duly recommended by the concerned departments/organisations/corporations for the appointment of the legal advisor in consultation with the attorney general for Pakistan.”

However, in the case of the chief legal adviser, the law ministry on January 15 nominated Rehman without consulting the civic agency.

When contacted and asked whether the recent letter of the law ministry was contradictory to its policy, Barrister Zafarullah Khan replied, “It is as per the policy and let CDA board recommend new names if [it] wants.”