Former, present MDs of state TV fighting it out in court
Faisal Kamal Pasha
ISLAMABAD: Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) here Wednesday directed the managing director (MD) State TV Yousaf Baig Mirza to provide details of his pecuniary benefits that he has earned since his appointment including details of 3 per cent of the total revenue he earned through advertisements.
The court while hearing this matter on Tuesday (April 09) had asked Baig what competitive process was adopted for his appointment as MD after a former MD of state TV Muhammad Ashraf Azeem had challenged Baig’s appointment.
MD Baig on Wednesday admitted before the court that no competitive process was adopted and he also confirmed that under an agreement with the ministry of information he is entitled to receive 3 per cent of the profit the state TV earns through advertisements. Justice Siddiqui also directed Baig to submit details of inductions in state TV during his tenure. The IHC bench inquired what competitive process was adopted for his appointment where he has been drawing a hefty salary of 1275000 alongside 3 per cent of the net profit.
Legal counsel for Baig, Naeem Bokhari advocate, told the court that Baig has worked as MD of two private TV channels before his appointment as MD state TV and all MDs of state TV were always appointed through the same method without advertising the post. Legal counsel for the ministry of information Babar Awan advocate argued before the court that state TV is a corporation and it earns its revenue by itself and pays to the workers. Since its inception in 1965, 34 MDs were appointed and all in the similar fashion. He further argued that the appointment of Mr Baig was strictly in accordance with the law after the state TV board of governors approved his appointment and sent the summary to the establishment division. The establishment division after getting the approval of the prime minister issued his appointment letter, he added.
The IHC bench observed that the prime minister made the appointment of Mr Baig and the process of his appointment was initiated by the ministry of information and the establishment division. The bench further said that it has no doubt about the competency of Mr Baig but if the due process had been adopted a more competent person could have been appointed for the said post. The bench observed that the Supreme Court in a number of cases examined similar appointments and issued orders accordingly.
It further asked the counsel to keep in mind the results of the litigation against the appointments in Ogra and OGDCL while defending Mr Baig. A former MD state TV Muhammad Ashraf Azeem through his counsel Sahibzada Anwar Hamid advocate had filed this petition while adopting that he had been MD PTV till April 15, 2007 and was removed for the reason that he had ordered on air live footage of the lawyers’ movement.
Ashraf Azeem told the court that he became MD PTV on the basis of merit and qualification by promotion after serving the state-owned television for years. The management had suggested to him to obtain pre-mature retirement when he still had four years service. The management had suggested that the salary package of Azeem was not commensurate with his qualifications. A more lucrative ‘professional package’ was available as contract employee. Conceding to the suggestions of the management, the petitioner Ashraf Azeem resigned from his permanent employment and he was given a job on contract basis as MD PTV. In the meanwhile the lawyers’ movement had started and the petitioner ordered live coverage of the movement and was asked not to perform his duties without cancelling his appointment contract. The information ministry then appointed Yousaf Baig Mirza.
Further hearing of the case has been adjourned till April 12.
Source: The News