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SHC summons DAG and SECP in appointment of Sadia Khan as Commissioner

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KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) has issued notices to Deputy Attorney General (DAG), Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) and others to appear before the court on a Constitutional Petition 236 of 2023, accusing Ms Sadia Khan of hiding her position as Honorary Consulate General of Finland at the time of her appointment as Commissioner SECP.

In Constitutional Petition 236 of 2023, the first hearing of which was held at SHC, the petitioner has pleaded to declare the appointment of Ms Sadia Khan illegal, male fide and void ab initio because of concealment of a conflict of interest, illegalities in the appointment process, and abuse of power by the accused Commissioner.

Ms Sadia Khan was appointed as Commissioner of the SECP in March 2020. At the time of her appointment as Commissioner, she was holding the position of Honorary Consulate General of Finland. She continues her position even after her appointment as Commissioner SECP, which is evident from the directory of the Consular Corps Sindh.

Furthermore, “Sadia was also CEO of Selar Enterprises (Private) Limited at the time of her appointment, which is a clear breach of Section 16 of the SECP Act 1997, which requires prior disclosure of any potential conflict of interest,” the petition said.

It is also on record that Sadia Khan was not given the go-ahead at the time of her initial summary presentation to the then cabinet, as a number of cabinet members have raised serious concerns about her competence, suitability, and obvious conflict of interests.

The petition claimed, “She was accordingly required to resign from all the positions held by her at the time and provide confirmation of having done so. She allegedly submitted her resignation confirmation, which was a blatant lie, and she has lied and deceived the federal government.”

The fact has been established that she has never resigned from her position as honorary Consulate General of Finland.

Moreover, the petitioner alleges that the Ministry of Finance has not followed proper processes in the appointment of Ms Sadia Khas as Commissioner of the SECP. It is argued that the SECP is an important regulatory body; therefore, it is essential that every officer of the SECP, and especially the Commissioners, be appointed in accordance with the law and act in an impartial and objective manner to the best of their abilities.

In addition, the petitioner has also pointed out some material irregularities in her appointment. As per the ministry’s record, Sadia has submitted her application to the Ministry of Finance after the deadline for the submission of applications had passed. However, the ministry accepted her application due to the pressure of certain influential individuals; hence, the appointment of Sadia Khan as Commissioner is void ab initio.

Moreover, it is alleged that she does not have the requisite experience and expertise to be considered for the post of Commissioner SECP, since she has mostly worked in her family business as opposed to any professional organization.

The petitioner has also accused the SECP Commissioner of abuse of power and failure to disclose a conflict of interest, and an inquiry shall be ordered into her appointment under Section 19(2) of the SECP Act.

It is accused that Ms Sadia Khan has misused her powers as Commissioner by awarding regulatory approvals to certain organizations which she favours and has unduly created hurdles in the license of her business rivals. It was revealed that she blocked an important IPO by making adverse comments based on a personal bias against the directors of that company and the advisors of the IPO.

She was also accused of exploiting SECP’s resources by unilaterally increasing her personal perks and protocols, such as enhanced security, drivers, and home staff, at the cost of the Commission.

The petitioner informed the court that he has already submitted a complaint to the Federal Minister for Finance and Revenue to highlight illegalities in the said appointment, but the government has not taken any action nor provided any response to the complainant.

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