The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Tuesday stopped PML-N’s Hanif Abbasi from working as a special assistant to the prime minister (SAPM) until the next hearing on May 27.
IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah issued the directives while hearing a petition filed by former interior minister and Awami Muslim League (AML) chief Sheikh Rashid, who has challenged Abbasi’s appointment as SAPM on grounds of his 2018 conviction in an ephedrine case.
Abbasi was notified as a SAPM, with the status of federal minister, on April 27. However, he has not been assigned a portfolio yet.
In the last hearing on May 9, the court had directed Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to reconsider Abbasi’s appointment “in case the conviction has not been set aside”.
When the hearing resumed on Tuesday, Justice Minallah observed that a person who has been convicted could not hold public office.
However, Abbasi’s counsel Ahsan Bhoon argued that the office of the SAPM was not similar to other public offices.
When the chief justice said the court would stop Abbasi from working as SAPM till the next date of hearing, Bhoon argued that it would be tantamount to “concrete relief” for the petitioner (Rashid).
However, Justice Minallah said he hoped Abbasi would not use the public office till the next hearing.
“The SAPM’s job is to advise the prime minister, he can do that without a notification as well,” he observed.