ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif approved the provision of bulletproof sports utility vehicles (SUVs) to all retired chief justices of the Supreme Court, at public expense, effective from the retirement of Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry.
This change of heart on the federal government’s part is surprising because it has been trying to recover a bulletproof vehicle from Justice Chaudhry since 2013.
But on Sept 5, 2016, the government seemed to change its mind, and the prime minister decided to provide officially maintained 2,400cc bulletproof SUVs to all outgoing chief justices.
This was disclosed in a summary submitted to the Islamabad High Court by the Cabinet Division during the hearing of an appeal filed by the government in a bid to retrieve the bulletproof car from Justice Chaudhry.
According to the summary, signed by Secretary to Prime Minister Fawad Hassan Fawad, “the office of the chief justice of Pakistan is a unique office which requires the recognition in all forms”.
“[The] nature of duties performed by the chief justice with particular reference to the threat perspective emanating out of the prosecution and trials of criminals and terrorists would require the continuation of some basic essential facilities for him even after retirement,” it read.
It said the prime minister was pleased to order that “a 2,400cc car shall be provided to every outgoing chief justice with effect from the former chief justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry… the facility will be available during the lifetime of the chief justice and the expenditure on maintenance and [fuel] shall be catered for by the Supreme Court of Pakistan”.
The summary said that “similar dispensation will be admissible to the two chief justices who have retired after [Justice Chaudhry] i.e. retired Justice Tassaduq Hussain Jillani and retired Justice Nasirul Mulk”.
But perhaps the PM Secretariat issued the Sept 5 summary in haste, as it missed the name of Justice Jawwad S. Khawaja, who retired on Aug 17, 2015. Subsequently, on Oct 4, 2016, Fawad Hassan Fawad issued a notification to amend the summary, which states: “the name of retired Justice Jawwad S. Khawaja is inserted after the name of retired Justice Nasirul Mulk, in… the summary”.
The summary also suggested that the bulletproof currently in Justice Chaudhry’s possession, may be recovered upon the provision of a new vehicle.
Earlier, in June 2016, the Cabinet Division had informed the IHC that “a bulletproof car Mercedez Benz No. GD-0341 was provided to former Chief Justice Mr Iftikhar Mohammad Chahdhry with the approval of the prime minister for a period of three months from the date of his retirement i.e. December 11, 2013 as a special dispensation.”
According to the letter, “the single bench of the court in its judgment dated January 1, 2014 allowed the use of a bulletproof car to former chief justice without placing embargo of time, in addition, Ministry of Law and Justice was directed by the court to provide [fuel] and maintenance for the vehicle.”
It said: “The decision of the IHC was conveyed to the Prime Minister’s Office, which instructed the Cabinet Division to consider filing an appeal.”
A two-member IHC division bench had set aside the single member bench’s order on the government’s appeal, but remanded the case back to the single bench for a re-hearing.
The single member bench, consisting of Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui on December 2, 2016 ordered the former chief justice to surrender the vehicle, but his order was not complied with and the judge later recused himself from hearing the case.
On Monday, the IHC reserved its order in the matter after the federal government, Justice Chaudhry’s counsel and private counsel Raiz Haif Rahi concluded their arguments.
Courtesy: Dawn News