Petition challenging NIRC chairman’s qualification criteria dismissed

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The Sindh High Court has dismissed a petition filed by the Sindh Bar Council that challenged the qualification criteria for the appointment of chairman of the National Industrial Relations Commission (NIRC).The SBC and other had assailed the vires of Rule 3 (1) of the Chairman and Members (Qualifications) Rules, 2016, setting out the qualification for appointment of a person as the chairman of the NIRC as well as the notification issued by the federal government regarding the appointment of incumbent chairman.

The petitioners argued that extensions of the chairman’s tenure were not supported by the relevant Act and the rules.They said that in terms of articles 177 and 193 of the constitution, practising advocates with relevant experience are qualified to be appointed as judges of the Supreme Court of Pakistan and the high courts; however, the qualification in terms of Rule 3(1) has been tailor-made so as to limit eligibility to the retired judges of the Supreme Court, thus the qualification is unreasonably restrictive, exclusionary and discriminatory; hence, it violates Article 25 of the constitution.

They submitted that appointments in terms of Rule 3(1) and the extension of such appointments is also said to violate the National Judicial Policy (NJP), with it being contended thatthe same prohibits retired judges from accepting any appointments except those allowed by statute, whereas the act itself does not provide for the appointment of anyjudge and it is only in rules that such provision has been made; therefore, this extension is against the NJP as well.

They submitted that the petition is maintainable as it is in the nature of quo warranto; therefore, there is no requirement that the same be instituted by or on behalf of an aggrieved person.A division bench, comprising Chief Justice Ahmed Ali M Sheikh and Justice Yousuf Ali Sayeed, after perusal of the petition, observed that the petitioners conceded that the appointment of the incumbent chairman took place in accordance with Rule 3 (1), and the real focus of their challenge lies against the extensions granted to him.

 

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