While one residential plot may be an elitist entitlement for top serving bureaucrats and judges in Pakistan, it is commonly known that the allotment of two residential plots is an act of institutional bribery. In the past military generals (e.g. General Zia-ul-Haq, General Musharraf) and political governments (e.g. Nawaz Sharif) have given away two residential plots to top bureaucrats and judges in order to win illegal favours from them.
Well, the following news report published in various media outlets shows that the so called champions of Jihad against corruption in Pakistan, the holiest of holies, honrouable judges of country’s apex court are not any different.
According to a report submitted to to a Pakistan parliamentary panel (Public Accounts Committee PAC), fifteen serving and retired judges of Pakistan’s Supreme Court, including several confidants of present Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, received two residential plots each worth millions of rupees under a government scheme which was specially designed in relaxation of existing rules.
The plots in some of the most expensive sectors of Islamabad were provided to three serving and 12 retired judges of the apex court during the regime of former military ruler Pervez Musharraf, said the report submitted by the Housing Ministry to the Public Accounts Committee.
According to the report these plots were allotted during the tenure of former President General Pervez Musharraf.
Justice Shakirullah Jan, Justice Tasadduqe Jilani, Justice Nasirul Mulk are included among the existing judges. All three of them are considered to be very close to the Chief Justice, were among those who were provided plots.
Justice Nasir-ul-Mulk headed the bench that convicted former Premier Yousuf Raza Gilani of contempt after he refused to reopen graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari. Gilani was subsequently disqualified by another bench headed by the Chief Justice.
Several retired judges who were considered close to the Chief Justice, including Khalil-ur-Rahman Ramday and Javed Iqbal, too were among the beneficiaries.
Acting Chief Election Commissioner Justice Shakirullah Jan and SC Registrar Dr Faqeer Hussain too are among the beneficiaries.
In the judges recently retired, Justice Khalilur Rahman Ramday, former chief justice Abdul Hameed Dogar, Justice Javed Batar, Justice Saeed Ashhad, Justice Sardar Raza, Justice Nawaz Abbasi, Justice Faquir Khokhar, Justice Javed Iqbal, Justice Falak Sher, Justice Jamshed Ali, Justice Ghulam Rabbani and Justice Zahid Hussain are included among the beneficiaries.
Chief Justice Chaudhry is no exception
A few months ago, the accountability body of the Parliament, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), received an official report from the Housing Ministry that shattered an eight-year-old perception that the incumbent Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) has never been given a piece of land by the government. A list compiled by the housing ministry of plot allotments to bureaucrats, judges and journalists spread over hundreds of pages, available with The Express Tribune, shows that Justice Chaudhry, then a Supreme Court judge, was given a one kanal plot on Dec 18, 2002 – six days after his 54th birthday. CJ Chaudhry was allotted a one-kanal plot during former President General Pervez Musharraf’s reign – which he owns to date in Islamabad’s residential sector G-14/4.
Pakistan’s CJ Iftikahr Chaudhry (who is known on Twitter as #IftikharMental because of doubts about his mental stability) is also implicated in a million dollar scam involving his son and other family members.
We are not accountable to anyone: Supreme Court’s response
In a written reply submitted to the Public Accounts Committee, the Supreme Court refused to provide audit reports sought by the panel, saying parliament could not review the conduct of judges.
The reply was submitted by the Registrar of the Supreme Court with the consent of full bench of the apex court.
It said that the Constitution prohibits the Public Accounts Committee from calling any official of the superior judiciary, including the Registrar.
The court, in its letter, told the committee that only the president can decide upon the court’s consultative ambit. Judges’ conduct also covers judiciary’s administrative and financial matters, it added.
The PAC, during the chairmanship of Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan had sent a letter to the SC asking for the audit report.
The NA body, under the instruction of present Chairman Nadeem Afzal Chan made the letter public it received recently that had been issued by the SC’s Full Court.
The letter also stated that according to various constitutional provisions the PAC cannot summon any official of the superior judiciary including the Registrar. ‘If the committee is interested in a formal court order, it should approach the president.’
The letter referred to Article 68 which said: “No discussion shall take place in [Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament)] with respect to the conduct of any Judge of the Supreme Court or of a High Court in the discharge of his duties”.
We wonder why doesn’t CJ Iftikhar Mental refer to the holy Quran and Rashidun Caliphs to present himself and his colleague judges for transparent accountability as per Islamic traditions and ideals?