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Shabbar Zaidi’s appointment as FBR chairperson challenged in court

May 17, 2019

An Inland Revenue Service officer has challenged the appointment of Shabbar Zaidi as head of the FBR in the Islamabad High Court.

In his petition, Ali Mohammad has named the establishment division secretary, FBR and Zaidi. He says his appointment is in violation of Article 199 of the Constitution.

Mohammad, a B-19 officer in the Inland Revenue Service, says he had “legitimate expectation for promotion to the post of FBR chairperson, which is the top slot in the hierarchy of his service”. But the post was given to Zaidi instead, whom he argues has no significant experience in any managerial or administrative position in any private sector organisation comparable to the FBR.

He said Zaidi was appointed in an “illegal manner”. He said the establishment division didn’t have the jurisdiction to appoint him and did so in violation of the law, Constitution and judgments of the Supreme Court and the high court. The law allows private persons to be appointed chairperson of the FBR but it has to be done in a non-transparent manner with an advertisement and mandatory competitive selection process, he said, arguing that this had been ignored in Zaidi’s appointment.

Mohammad also argued that the “honorary/pro bono” basis on which Zaidi has been appointed is illegal. There’s no law allowing this, he argued, adding that he believed this meant Zaidi would not be held accountable for his actions, omissions and performance.

He also said that Zaidi was a partner at a a chartered accountancy firm who represented taxpayers before the FBR. The pro bono status implies he won’t be abandoning his interests at the firm and he hasn’t declared the details of the cases he and his partners are representing, argued the petitioner.

He wants the court to declare Zaidi’s appointment illegal and have him removed as FBR chairperson.

Zaidi was appointed FBR chief on May 6 after former chairperson Jehanzeb Khan was removed.

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Shabbar Zaidi, FBR, Islamabad High court,