IHC extends stay granted earlier in favour of SECP official
The Islamabad High Court (IHC) Monday extended the stay order granted in the case of Arsalan Zafar – an additional director at the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) – till Oct 27 under which the regulator was barred from taking any action against its senior official.
Arsalan had moved the court against a show-cause notice issued to him after the publication of a news report regarding the alleged businesses and assets of Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information Lt-Gen (retd) Asim Saleem Bajwa, who is also the CPEC Authority chairman.
The SECP has accused the additional director of leaking the information used in the news report against Bajwa.
On Monday, Chief Justice Athar Minallah accepted the request made by the SECP counsel for giving more time to submit reply but asked him whether the said information shouldn’t be public.
As the chief justice asked the counsel if they had prepared the reply according to the orders past by the court during the previous hearing, he replied in affirmation. However, he requested the court for giving more time for the purpose – a plea that was accepted.
Chief Justice Minallah on Sept 26 had remarked that the very conduct of the SECP showed that it wasn’t an independent organisation.
As the court heard the petition filed by Arsalan for the time, the SECP was barred from taking any action against Arsalan till Oct 12. However, the court directed him to submit his reply to the show-cause notice.
The court also issued a notice to the SECP, directing the regulatory body to submit a detailed reply which must explain why all the documents are not available on its website.
The regulator has also been asked to share how many inquiries have been conducted during the past five years over the leaked documents.
“Why the SECP is taking interest in this case only,” Chief Justice Minallah asked the regulator’s counsel and observed that a non-issue had been turned into an issue.
“You have to tell so many things. These issues are of public interest,” observed the chief justice who added that accountability was possible only when things were shared with the public.
In the plea, Arsalan maintained that an officer junior to him was appointed a member of the committee. Furthermore, he added, the panel did not give him time to respond to the allegations against him in accordance with the law.
The petitioner contended that the report presented by the committee on September 19 was based on baseless accusations.
He asked the court to declare the formation of the committee illegal and its report null and void while also pleading that the show-cause notices issued to SECP officials on the basis of the report should be put off until the court decided the matter.