SAPMs, advisers cannot be part of cabinet proceedings: IHC

In its detailed order, IHC rules that total number of advisers to the premier should be limited to five


The Islamabad High Court (IHC) has ruled that special assistants and advisers to the prime minister are not members of the cabinet and therefore cannot be part of cabinet proceedings.

“The special assistant to the prime minister is not a minister of state or a federal minister but only enjoys the status for the purposes of perks and privileges. He cannot address the parliament, nor has any executive authority vested in him. He also is not a member of the cabinet and cannot take part in the proceedings of the same,” the IHC stated in its detailed order.

A detailed decision – 23 pages long – rejected the petition against the appointment of 15 special assistants and IHC Judge Justice Amir Farooq wrote the verdict.

The court further ruled that the total number of advisers to the prime minister should be limited to five.

The court, however, stated that “undoubtedly, on special requests, persons can be called in by the committee but no person can be the chairman or a member of the committee of the cabinet, who is not a member of the cabinet.”

“The conferment of status of federal minister to an adviser is again only for the purpose of perks and privileges and the conferment does not make a person/adviser as a federal minister,” the order read.

The details have surfaced in a written order of IHC, which set aside on Monday a notification of the Cabinet Division through which Prime Minister Imran Khan had re-constituted the Cabinet Committee on Privatization (CCoP) and made his adviser of finance Abdul Hafeez Shaikh its chairman and two other advisers – Abdul Razak Dawood and Dr Ishrat Hussain – members of CCoP.

Through the judgment, IHC’s division bench comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Ghulam Azam Qambrani has declared the appointments of three advisors of PM as chairman and the members of CCoP illegal.

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) MNA Rana Iradat through his counsel Mohsin Shahnawaz Ranjha – another PML-N leader – had challenged the inclusion of advisers in the cabinet committee and argued that only elected representatives of the people had the right to govern the country.

Through the notification issued on April 25, 2019, the prime minister had made his adviser on finance and revenue as the chairman and included his adviser on commerce and investment Abdul Razak Dawood and adviser on institutional reforms and austerity Dr Ishrat Hussain as members.

According to the notification, PM Imran had nominated the Minister for Communications Murad Saeed, Minister for Law and Justice Farogh Naseem, Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar, Minister for Privatisation Mohammadmian Soomro, Minister for Power Omar Ayub Khan, as members of the CCoP.

Since CCoP, among other things, was deliberating on important matters such as privatisation of Roosevelt Hotel, assets of the Pakistan International Airlines and other government-owned organizations, the petitioner had also pressed for stay on the cabinet committee proceedings.