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Plea against NFC composition referred to IHC CJ

Plea against NFC composition referred to IHC CJ

ISLAMABAD: A single member bench of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Tuesday referred a petition filed against composition of the 10th National Finance Commission (NFC) to the chief justice for placing it before a two-member division bench.

Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb referred the petition to IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah observing that the matter may be fixed before a two-member division bench since it requires constitutional interpretation.

Petitioner Barristers Mohsin Shahnawaz Ranjha and Umer Gillani sought the court’s permission to place before it the letter of Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah in which he expressed reservations for not holding consultation on the 10th NFC.

Barrister Ranjha argued that the terms of reference set for the commission were also contradictory to the law.

The assistant attorney general told the court that the finance and law divisions will file a detailed reply in due course and sought some time for it.

The finance ministry had notified the formation of the 11-member commission after approval of its terms of reference by President Arif Alvi required under Article 160 (1) of the Constitution.

The matter may be fixed before a two-member division bench since it requires constitutional interpretation

The commission will have four provincial finance ministers and four non-statutory members representing the provinces and the federal finance secretary as an official expert.

The petition said that President Dr Arif Alvi, who is purported to have issued the notification under Article 160 of the Constitution, had a duty to “constitute a National Finance Commission consisting of minister of finance of the federal government, ministers of finance of provincial governments and such other persons as may be appointed by the President after consultation with governors of the provinces”.

It further said that “a close reading of the aforesaid will bear out that the Commission is supposed to have two kinds of members: Statutory Members and Co-opted Members”.

Statutory members, the petition said, were the five members whose presence was essential for the commission, including the federal minister for finance and four provincial ministers for finance.

Co-opted members included five statutory members and more members could be added. However, the petition said a co-opted member may only be added after “consultation with governors of the provinces”.

The petition said that “any co-opted member may be added only if there is consensus among the President and governors of the provinces (acting on the advice of their respective cabinets) that the expertise of such co-opted member is necessary for the NFC”.

“However, the impugned notification does not make reference to any consultations whatsoever which the President held with governors of the provinces regarding the selection and appointment of each one of the Co-opted Members of the NFC,” the petition said, adding that it may be assumed that no such consultations were held.

Published in Dawn, June 24th, 2020

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