Shabbar Zaidi appointment as FBR chairman without advertisement may tantamount to contempt of court

ISLAMABAD: The selection committee has observed that appointment of Shabbar Zaidi without advertising the post as chairman of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and Secretary Revenue Division may tantamount to contempt of court.

The selection committee for the selection of the senior officers held its meeting on May 06, 2019 for and considered the FBR Chairman is appointed by Federal Government in terms of Section 3 (3) of FBR Act, 2007.

The Federal Government has been defined as the ‘Federal Cabinet’ in Article 90 of the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973 (Annex-II) and Honorable Supreme Court of Pakistan’s judgment dated 18-08-2016 passed in Civil Appeals No.1428/2016 and 1436/2016.

The selection committee observed the name of Dr. Ahmad Mujtaba Memon (PCS/BS-21) was discussed for his appointment as Chairman, FBR / Secretary, Revenue Division.

“After detailed discussions, the Committee was of the view that Dr. Ahmad Mujtaba Memon (PCS/BS-21) is too junior to be posted / appointed as Chairman, Federal Board of Revenue / Secretary, Revenue Division.”

Whereafter, the Adviser on Finance, Revenue & Economic Affairs recommended Syed Muhammad Shabbar Zaidi, Chartered Accountant, for appointment as Chairman, FBR / Secretary, Revenue Division.

The Committee observed that Islamabad High Court, Islamabad, vide judgment dated 05-06-2013 passed in Writ Petition No.812/ 2013 (Annex-IV) while setting aside notification of appointment of Ali Arshad Hakeem as Chairman, FBR, inter alia, directed Establishment Division, for appointing regular Chairman, FBR, through competitive process after advertising the post.

“However, Ali Arshad Hakeem as Chairman, FBR, enjoyed all financial benefits of the post. It was discussed that possibility of appointment of Syed Muhammad Shabbar Zaidi may be explored on pro bono / honorary basis.”

“The committee of the view that the advice from law and justice division may be solicited in this regard since Syed Muhammad Shabbar Zaidi is from private sector,” according to the report of selection committee.

It further said that since pro bono appointment are being made by the government without advertisement, such as appointment of chairman, prime minister’s inspection commission (PMIC), Chairman NAVTTC, option of pro bono appointment of Chairman FBR/Secretary, Revenue Division, without advertisement is worth exploring.

“Since express directors of the court are in field regarding appointment of chairman FBR through competitive process appointing Syed Muhammad Shabbar Zaidi without advertising the post as FBR chairman / Secretary Revenue Division may tantamount to contempt of court.”

Keeping this aspect in view, the division sought advice from law and justice division on the following propositions:

Whether or not FBR chairman can be appointed from private sector in terms of Section 3(3) of the FBR Act, 2007.

Whether or not the post of FBR chairman is required to be advertised if the appointment is to be made on honorary / pro bono basis.

Further the selection committee went through the CV of Shabbar Zaidi and observed that he had made representation before the FBR on behalf of the clients for various clarifications and reconciliations. “The existing of conflict of interest in his appointment as FBR chairman/ Secretary Revenue Division also needs to be taken into consideration,” it added.

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