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IHC suspends single bench order to remove NBP president, chairman from office

ISLAMABAD – A division bench of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) Thursday suspended a single bench’s verdict wherein it had ordered the removal of Arif Usmani and Zubair Soomro from the offices of National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) president and its chairman.

The DB comprising Chief Justice of IHC Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Aamer Farooq conducted hearing of the Intra Court Appeal (ICA) filed by the Secretary Ministry of Finance challenging the single bench’s verdict dated June 29. 

Earlier, a single bench of IHC comprising Justice Mohsin Akhter Kayani announced the verdict which he had reserved after hearing the arguments of all parties in four identical petitions challenging the appointment of the National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) president and its chairman. 

In his verdict, Justice Kayani directed the federal government to immediately remove the National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) President, Arif Usmani, and board of directors (BoD) Chairman, Zubair Soomro. The IHC bench announced this judgment after hearing the petitions moved by four citizens including Syed Jahangir, Javed Iqbal, Fazal Raheem and Latif Qureshi. 

In the ICA, Secretary Finance adopted that the impugned judgment is against the law on the subject and fact of the case hence not tenable in the eyes of the law and is thus liable to be set aside. 

The ICA said, “The honourable court has failed to examine, discuss and appreciate the objection regarding mala fides of the petitioners in filing the writ petition. It is humbly submitted that various similar petitions were systematically filed in High Court at Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi with mala fide intend to derail the technological and managerial changes introduced by the new management of NBP.” 

“The malicious intent of the Respondent No 1 (Abdul Latif Qureshi who filed the petition challenging the appointments) is further illuminated by the unexplained delay of twenty months before challenging the appointment indicating towards the fact that the petitioner had ulterior motives behind filing the petition,” it added. It continued that the court has failed to examine, discuss and appreciate objection that the writ petition is hit by laches. 

The impugned judgment having not eluded to this crucial point relating to maintainability and ignoring the unexplained laches coupled with the malicious conduct of the respondent is liable to be set aside in accordance with the settled principles of law. 

Therefore, the Finance Secretary prayed to the court the instant appeal may be accepted and the aforementioned impugned judgment passed by the IHC single bench may be set aside. He also requested the court to suspend the operation of the said verdict until the final decision of the ICA.   

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