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NTC chairman removed in the light of PHC judgement

ISLAMABAD: Chairman National Tariff Commission (NTC) Qasim M Niaz has been removed from his office in the light of Peshawar High Court’s (PHC) judgement wherein he has been declared ineligible for this slot, well informed sources told Business Recorder.

Qasim Niaz, who is former secretary commerce, had been appointed chairman NICL after due process by the Commerce Ministry. However, his eligibility had been first challenged in Lahore High Court (LHC) which declared his qualification fit for the post but the PHC declared the appointment as void and against the law.

The sources said Ministry of Commerce and Textile (Commerce Division) has given the charge of acting chairman NTC to senior member Abdul Khaliq, although he lacks convincing power as was witnessed during different meetings. Earlier, unconfirmed reports suggested that Commerce Ministry intended to give charge of acting chairman to Rubina Athar.

There is abuzz in NTC and Commerce Ministry as well that one of the members of NTC was behind the move to remove Qasim Niaz as there are serious differences among the incumbent team members of NTC.

“Qasim Niaz is no more NTC chairman as he is not the member now. The charge of acting chairman has been given to senior member Abdul Khaliq,” said a senior official of Commerce Ministry.

However, according to the official, Niaz has already filed an appeal against the decision of a two-member bench of PHC, comprising Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth and Justice Muhammad Younas Thaheem, that allowed the writ petition filed against the appointment of Niaz as chairman NTC by Musa Raza, the sole proprietor of Shaheen Steel Service.

According to media reports, the court in a short order had stated that the writ petition was allowed only to the extent of declaring appointment of chairman NTC illegal and void.

During the course of arguments, the petitioner’s lawyer Babar Khan Yousafzai submitted that the NTC chairman didn’t meet the qualification requirement provided under Section 5(2) (a) of the National Traffic Commission Act.

He said the respondent only possessed a master degree in defence and strategic studies instead of having master degree international trade laws, business and commercial laws, economics, accountancy, tariffs and trade, commerce and trade, or trade-related subject.

The petitioner’ counsel pointed out before the bench that the provisions of Section 5(2) (a) of the NTC Act were mandatory. He said the qualification required that a person appointed to the NTC must have at least master degree in the fields stated therein.

However, the petitioner’s lawyer argued that the NTC chairman did three year program of BSc economics, which under the HEC rules isn’t equivalent to master degree as BSc four year economic program is equivalent to master degree.—MUSHTAQ GHUMMAN

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