High court chiefs' powers challenged in SC

Petitioner levels serious allegations of power abuse against LHC ex-CJ

Rana Yasif April 19, 2024


A petitioner has approached the Supreme Court, challenging the discretionary powers wielded by the chief justices of all high courts and leveling serious allegations of power abuse against Lahore High Court (LHC) former chief justice Muhammad Ameer Bhatti.

The petitioner, Mian Dawood, urged the country's highest court to enforce principles of merit and lawful conduct, which are expected standards across all institutions, including the judiciary.

In a petition filed at the SC's Lahore Registry, the chief secretaries of four provinces and the registrars of the five high courts have been named as respondents.

Dawood has brought the SC's attention to alleged corrupt practices, embezzlement of national funds, nepotism, and unconstitutional actions taken by some high court chief justices nearing their retirements under the guise of discretionary powers.

He specifically highlights the case of former LHC CJ Muhammad Ameer Bhatti, alleging that he issued numerous notifications before retirement to favor his associates.

According to Dawood, former CJ Bhatti granted promotions, salary increments, transfer orders, and extended leaves to various LHC employees before retirement, all while disregarding rules and administrative policies.

Also read: JCP to regulate CJs’ power in appointing judges

Furthermore, Dawood claims that former CJ Bhatti revoked the punishments of several employees based on judicial orders, even suspending penalties for those with pending appeals before service tribunals, effectively hampering their functioning.

Dawood argues that approximately 20 employees, ranging from former CJ Bhatti's principal secretary to lower ranks, were granted two advance increments. Former LHC registrar Sheikh Khalid Bashir and former registrar Irfan Saeed, who was transferred, also received two advance increments each.

Additionally, the former CJ allegedly approved a four-year study leave with pay for his court associate (reader) without following legal procedures. Moreover, the reader's wife, serving as a senior civil judge, was similarly granted study leave.

Dawood petitions the court to regulate the discretionary powers of high court chief justices to prevent corrupt practices, nepotism, and unlawful actions.

He also requests the court to annul all notifications issued by former CJ Bhatti during the last month of his tenure to safeguard the national treasury from significant losses.

Dawood further demands the recovery of all amounts granted as increments, which he alleges were wrongfully distributed, and suggests depositing them into the national treasury. He also calls for the cancellation of study leaves and the revocation of orders suspending punishments.


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