Court summons PM Imran in Zulfi Bukhari’s appointment case

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–Top judge says there’s no qualification criteria for special assistant to PM in constitution

–Says ‘when a dual national cannot become a member of the assembly, one can also not become a minister’

 

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) on Monday issued notices to Prime Minister Imran Khan, Special Assistant on Overseas Pakistanis & Human Resource Development Zulfiqar Abbas Bukhari and secretary Cabinet Division in a petition pertaining to Bukhari’s disqualification as PM’s special assistant.

Last month, the top court had admitted the petition after setting aside the objections raised by the registrar’s office. The petition filed by two university graduates, Mirza Moiz Baig and Adil Chattha, raised the issue of Bukhari’s dual nationality and the ongoing National Accountability Bureau (NAB) investigation against him for owning offshore companies.

Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar fixed November 16 as the date for the hearing and inquired as to Bukhari’s portfolio.

When told that he is the PM’s special assistant, the top judge questioned if a person could become a minister despite holding dual nationality.

“When a dual national cannot become a member of the assembly, one can also not become a minister,” he added.

As the petitioner’s counsel appeared in court, Justice Nisar asked if the petition had been filed under Article 63(1)(c) of the constitution, which refers to a person’s nationality.

“A rule that cannot be circumvented directly can also not be circumvented indirectly,” the lawyer responded.

He added that going by the current government’s policies, even “Jahangir Tareen could be given a position in the ministry”.

Justice Ijazul Ahsan pointed out that no court has given a verdict against Bukhari as of yet.

The chief justice said that there is no qualification mentioned for a special assistant in the 1973 Constitution.

The petitioners have made PM Khan a party in their application.

Bukhari is a close aide and friend of the prime minister and his appointment caused controversy among opposition circles.

The petition filed under Article 184(3) of the Constitution takes issue with Bukhari’s dual nationality and states that he is currently under investigation by the accountability watchdog.

The petition argues that a person ineligible to become a member of the parliament and thus a federal minister cannot be given the status of a state minister through appointment by the prime minister as a special assistant.

In 2015, SC took exception to then-prime minister’s appointment of Shujaat Azeem, also a dual national, as a special assistant to the PM on aviation.