KARACHI, Aug 18: The Sindh High Court on Friday issued notices to the federal and provincial finance authorities and other respondents in a contempt case while hearing an application filed against non-compliance of the court’s order regarding the salaries and allowances of judicial staff.
A division bench headed by Chief Justice Mushir Alam issued the notices on the application moved by Advocate Muhammed Ali Hakoo on behalf of his clients and put off the hearing to a date to be fixed later by the court office.
In May last year, the court had directed the Sindh government to pay special judicial allowance equal to three times the initial of the substantive pay scale to judicial officers and employees of the district judiciary with effect from March 2010.
The direction had come on petitions of Amanullah Khan Yousufzai, Mohammad Farooq Rehmani, Mohammad Ali Ansari, Bachal Bhatti and others seeking enhancement of pay and judicial allowance at par with judicial officers as well as employees of the district judiciary establishment and the attorney-general and advocate-general offices of the other provinces.
On Aug 8, 2012 a special secretary of the provincial finance department present in the court assured the court that additional salary for the successive months had been paid regularly without any default with effect from Sept 1, 2012.
The government law officer and the petitioners’ counsel agreed that a notification for the release of additional salary for the month of August would be issued within three days.
On Aug 10, the court was informed that the finance department agreed to pay the arrears of March 2010 to June 2011 by way of monthly instalments in addition to the monthly salary with effect from Sept 1, 2012 and till such time the entire arrears would be totally set off.
On Friday, a joint secretary of the finance division informed the court that identical petitions were also filed in the Lahore High Court. He submitted that as regards the SHC judgment of May 24 in the instant petitions, the matter was being examined in consultation with the law division and a taking a final decision would take four to six weeks time.
On May 24, 2011, the SHC had also ordered the provincial and federal government “to take steps and initiate legislative measures as may be necessary to empower the SHC to fix and determine the pay scales of members of Sindh Judicial Service including judicial officers and employees in consonance with the Article 203 and other enabling Articles of the Constitution”.
According to the petitioners, they were not being paid the judicial and utility allowances at the enhanced rates as were being received by employees of the Lahore and Peshawar high courts.
They submitted that as the working of the staff members of the three high courts — SHC, LHC and PHC — was similar, the SHC staff were also entitled to the facility of the judicial allowance and utility allowance at the enhanced rates.
They stated that the National Judicial (policymaking) Committee at its meeting on Nov 10, 2007 had approved the rate of allowances for judicial officers and staff of the subordinate courts in all the four provinces.
The petitioners submitted that judicial officers of the district judiciary, courts and tribunal established under the relevant federal and provincial legislation working under the control of the Sindh High Court, including its employees, were being discriminated against vis-a-vis persons similarly placed in the other provinces.
They submitted that withholding of the judicial and utility allowances in the case of SHC employees was in violation of Article 9 of the constitution.
The petitioners’ counsel argued that the state was bound to discourage, inter alia, provincial prejudices among citizens of Pakistan under Article 33 of the constitution.
He submitted that the state was obliged to remove the disparity in the income and earnings of individuals, including those in government service, under Article 38 (e) of the constitution.
Issuing notices to the respondents, the SHC directed them to explain the position of non-implementation of court directions regarding the salaries of judicial officers.