Suo motu: SC takes notice of ‘lifetime’ privileges

Summons Ashraf, Gilani, Rehman Malik and Qaim Ali Shah.

Mudassir Raja April 14, 2013
File photo of Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry. PHOTO: FILE


Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry has taken a dim view of the lifetime perks and privileges that the outgoing government voted itself in the final days of its tenure.

The Supreme Court has issued notices to two former prime ministers and some former senior officials over obtaining exorbitant monetary privileges and security measures allegedly at the cost of the national exchequer.

Justice Chaudhry took suo motu notice of different news stories and summoned former premiers Raja Pervaiz Ashraf and Yousaf Raza Gilani, former interior minister Rehman Malik and former Sindh chief minister Qaim Ali Shah in this regard.

They were asked to justify the related orders issued and laws passed by their government, by either appearing in person or through their lawyers on April 16.

The chief justice directed the law and interior secretaries to place on record orders issued by Ashraf on March 15, 2013, providing unprecedented lifetime security protocol for himself and three other former prime ministers, as well as a notification issued by the interior ministry providing extended security to Malik and other former interior ministers.

Moreover, Justice Chaudhry asked the chief secretary and home secretary of Sindh to place on record laws passed by the Sindh Assembly for the security and financial benefit of former chief ministers, speakers, deputy speakers and MPAs.

He also directed the attorney general of Pakistan and the Sindh advocate general to appear before the court and assist the bench in the evaluation of these orders and laws in accordance with the spirit of the Constitution.

The accountant general and the advocate general of Pakistan were asked to inform the court about the exact amount used for the benefits.

“Prima facie, it seems that at the cost of public exchequer and in violation of Articles 3, 9, 14 and 25 of the Constitution the order issued by former prime minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf and the March 14 notification issued by the Interior Ministry are without any lawful authority,” the chief justice said.

“Likewise, two amendments made by the Sindh Provincial Assembly hours before its end, extending privileges to former chief ministers, speakers, deputy speakers and the ministers at the cost of the public exchequer are unwarranted as no law can be promulgated, which is not in consonance with the Constitution,” the court’s order further stated.

The chief justice observed that privileges which had been extended to the named functionaries were required to be examined in the light of Article 184(3) of the Constitution.

He had taken notice of a registrar’s office note based on news reports which claimed that 150 policemen would be given to ex-prime ministers for security, with a DSP heading the contingent.

The notification of the interior ministry stated that the Federal Investigation Agency would provide protocol and security to all former interior ministers and their families at all airports besides providing them personal assistants and secretaries.

The laws passed by the Sindh Assembly included benefits such as 70% of salaries and allowances per month, a private secretary of grade-17, an assistant, a driver, a cook, a gardener, a sanitary worker, lifetime police security and landline and mobile phone facilities with a credit of Rs10,000 per month.

The Sindh Assembly also passed the Sindh Provincial Assembly (Members) Privileges (Amendment) Law, 2013, according to which the provincial law makers have been brought at par with the Senators and MNAs.  Some of their perks included access to all government guest houses, rest houses and Sindh House Islamabad and Sindh House Gwadar; use of VIP Lounges at all airports; lifetime entry pass for the assembly secretariat, assembly library and speaker gallery; official or gratis passport for themselves and their spouse for life, and issuance and renewal of four arms licenses.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 14th, 2013. 


FaiselH | 8 years ago | Reply

This is the worst abuse of the trust they were mandated for. They should be disqualified for life.

Salman | 8 years ago | Reply

SC, Please give them life sentences as life long 'privileges'

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