Verdict on plea seeking SC staff details on 16th
ISLAMABAD : The Supreme Court has said it would announce its verdict on October 16
(Monday) over a petition seeking the disclosure of its staff details.
The SC issued a notification to the petitioner to inform him about the decision.
A three-member bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Qazi Faez Isa, heard the petition
filed by a citizen, namely Mukhtar Ahmed Ali.
The plea challenged the Islamabad High Court's decision to accept the registrar's writ petition
against the Pakistan Information Commission's (PIC) order to make the SC's staff information
The registrar, through the attorney general for Pakistan's office, filed a petition in the IHC
against the PIC's July 12, 2021 order.
The PIC 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.
The registrar’s petition also contended that the PIC could not pass such an order in connection
with constitutional courts as its jurisdiction was confined only to those departments that were
established under a statute or law.
On Friday, the petitioner contended that the apex court would deprive the people of their
fundamental right to information if it decided to disregard the law in this connection to the extent
of its applicability to the SC as well as simultaneously declared that its registrar and other staff
members were its integral part.
Besides, he argued that it would also take away the people’s right to exercise the writ jurisdiction
for the protection of their fundamental rights under Article 199 of the Constitution in relation to
the administration of the top court.
"A question was raised as to whether the Hon’ble Supreme Court should provide access to
information through its internal rules… It is argued that it would not be the best option for a
variety of reasons, especially if such a recourse sought to exclude oversight/jurisdiction of the
Pakistan Information Commission. It would [also] amount to disregarding a duly enacted law
(i.e. the Right of Access to Information Act, 2017) by the chosen representatives of the people of
Pakistan, even though the Act doesn’t affect judicial independence by any stretch of
imagination" read the petition filed by Mukhtar in the top court seeking the details of its staff
It is also stated that the SC judgments on questions related to implementation of the Act in the
light of Article 19-A of the
Constitution would likely to be more informed and judicious, if the court had the opportunity to
benefit from the reasoning of the Information Commission.
The petitioner highlighted that it had been over a decade since Article 19-A was inserted in the
Constitution through the 18th Amendment in 2010, and yet the SC had not developed rules to
give effect to this important reform.
“In the meanwhile, the registrar has been vehemently resisting [the] disclosure of information
under the Right of Access to Information Act, 2017," it read.
"The letter and spirit of Article 19-A of the Constitution and international best practice require
that an easy and cost-effective mechanism is established for citizens’ access to information so
that [they] don’t have to ordinarily approach the court for the implementation of this fundamental
right. It is, however, worrying that even the Hon’ble Registrar of the Superior Court has chosen
not to disclose the requested information and has, instead, resisted and challenged the orders of
the Pakistan Information Commission, which has been lawfully established to enable [the]
exercise of citizens’ fundamental right to information,” it added.
The petition read that Sections 7 and 16 of the Right of Access to Information Act, 2017
provided more than adequate or reasonable restrictions whereby all the potential risks to privacy,
safety and security of individuals working in the SC or in connection with the administration of
justice had been mitigated or addressed.
“[The] relevant sections in this regard include Sections 7(g), 16(1)(b), 16(1)(c), 16(1)(f),
16(1)(h), 16(1)(i)(v), and 16(1)(j) of the Act. Hence, the application of the Act on [the] Hon’ble
Supreme Court or its administration is not, in any way, likely to undermine any of [its] legitimate
interests, judges or other functionaries. [It] will [also not] undermine the independence of the
Supreme Court, as the Act only seeks to improve transparency and public accountability without
which no institution can claim to be independent, nor can it have [the] trust and respect of the
people, who pay for the functioning of institutions through their taxes,” the petition stated.
Source: Express Tribune