The legitimacy of the appointments of the entire CDA board members, including Chairman retired Capt Anwarul Haq, has come under scrutiny as CDA Union leader Amanullah Khan filed a petition challenging the appointments in the Islamabad High Court (IHC).
Petition Against CDA Board Members
The petition targets the appointments of key figures in the CDA, including Mr Haq as Chairman, Tahir Naeem Akhtar as member (finance), Talat Mehmood as member (administration), Tariq Salam as member (estate), Mohammad Khalid Hafiz as member (engineering), Sadia Haider as member (planning), Shahzad Khalil as member (environment), and Nauman Khalid as member (technology and digitisation).
Advocate Kashif Ali Malik, representing the petitioner, argued before IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq that the appointments were made in a non-transparent manner, violating the provisions of the 1960 CDA ordinance and contradicting a landmark 2017 judgment authored by then CJ Justice Athar Minallah.
Citing the Supreme Court case of State Life Insurance Corporation of Pakistan vs the director general Military Lands and Cantonment Rawalpindi, Malik asserted that when a statute requires a public functionary to act in a particular manner, it must act accordingly. He emphasized that the appointments of board members were made by the Cabinet Division in blatant disregard of the law.
The petition contends that the appointments, lacking relevant qualifications or expertise, violate the law. It specifically questions the qualification of Chairman Anwarul Haq, serving as the chief commissioner Islamabad, who is an ex-officio member of the CDA board without relevant expertise in town planning.
Furthermore, it challenges the appointment of Sadia Haider as member planning, citing her lack of qualifications in town planning or civil engineering, and alleges that she was appointed to head a directorate where BS-20 officers were already working, making them subordinate to a junior officer.
The petition also questions the qualifications and expertise of Shahzad Khalil, member environment, who is not an environmentalist and supervises senior officers in BS-20. Members handling finance, engineering, and technology are similarly alleged to lack the required qualifications for their respective roles.
The petition argues that the appointments were made without framing profiles or conducting comparative evaluations, terming them as favoritism and nepotism. It sheds light on a concerning trend where officers join the CDA on deputation to secure lucrative plots, as the agency’s policy allows its employees, including the chairman and members on deputation, to qualify for plots after six months of service.
Islamabad High Court Takes Action
The Islamabad High Court has issued notices to the secretaries of Cabinet and Establishment Divisions, the CDA chairman and members, and has sought their response within a fortnight. The petitioner seeks a declaration from the court declaring the appointments of the CDA chairman and members as illegal, intensifying the focus on the alleged irregularities in the appointment process.