Chief Justice (CJ) lists plea on SC staff details -
Pakistan Press Foundation

Chief Justice (CJ) lists plea on SC staff details

Pakistan Press Foundation

ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan Qazi Faez Isa has scheduled a hearing for a petition seeking disclosure of the Supreme Court’s staff details.

The three-judge bench, presided over by the chief justice, will convene on September 27 to address the petition filed by citizen Mukhtar Ahmed Ali.

This petition challenges the decision made by the Islamabad High Court (IHC) regarding the acceptance of the SC registrar’s writ petition against the Pakistan Information Commission’s (PIC) order to make the apex court’s staff information publicly accessible.

The registrar through the Attorney General for Pakistan office, had filed a petition in the IHC against the PIC’s July 12, 2021 order that directed the SC registrar to share with the appellant the requested information at the earliest, but not later than 20 working days of the receipt of the order.

It is also contended that the PIC cannot pass such an order regarding constitutional courts as its jurisdiction was confined only to those departments which are established under statute/law.

In May 2019, applicant Mukhtar Ahmed Ali had approached the PIC, seeking particular information about the total sanctioned strength of staff members of the top court against different positions and pay scales.

The data sought details from pay scales 1 to 22, along with total vacancies in the top court against different pay scales and positions. The applicant had also sought the dates from which the positions were lying vacant.

The applicant asked for the number of staff members who were not regular but had been engaged on daily-wage basis or through short-term or long-term contracts against various positions and pay scales and the number and types of positions created anew since January 1, 2017.

The total number of females, disabled people and transgender staff members against various positions and pay scales working with the SC and a certified copy of the latest approved service rules of the top court were also required.

Moreover, in the absence of the present petitioner, IHC CJ Aamer Farooq accepted the registrar’s petition and set aside the PIC order on the basis of lack of jurisdiction.

Mukhtar Ahmed challenged the IHC’s single-judge order by filing an intra-court appeal (ICA). However same was also rejected on account of time bard. Upon this petitioner approached the apex court.

Now the petitioner has raised several questions of law in his petition and questioned whether the judgement accords with the principles of administration of justice.

“Whether the august Supreme Court of Pakistan does not come under the public body definition of the Right of Access to Information Act, 2017. Whether the Registrar’s Office is not a public entity distinct from the Hon’ble Supreme Court acting in its judicial capacity?” the petition read.

It asked whether an information request by a citizen moved under the Right of Access to Information Act, 2017 concerning the status of civil employees (those acting in ordinary, non-judicial capacity) at the Supreme Court can be termed as a request encroaching upon and likely to affect the independence of the judiciary.

The petition further asked whether the subject information request did not warrant any reply and whether there was not a duty to give reasons for the non-provision of the information sought.

“Whether the true interpretation of Article 19-A does not lead to Respondent No. 1 (SC Registrar) being bound to furnish the information requested? Whether the subject Information Request doesn’t come under the Right of Access to Information Act, 2017. Whether the High Court should not have condoned the delay on the facts of the case and the circumstances surrounding the announcement of judgment and provision of attested copies?  Whether the judgement can be sustained in law and/or on facts?”

Last year Justice Isa while writing a letter to ex-CJP Umar Ata Bandial had raised questions over the filing of a writ petition by the SC registrar against the Pakistan Information Commission’s (PIC) order for sharing details of the apex court staff.

He in his letter recalled that he had also written to ex-CJP Gulzar Ahmed to withdraw the writ petition from the Islamabad High Court (IHC) as the same was filed without consultation of all judges.

He pointed out that the fact that the apex court is standing as a petitioner and praying for relief before a high court is unprecedented.

Source: Express Tribune

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