ISLAMABAD, Dec 7: A petitioner annoyed Chief Justice Iqbal Hameedur Rehman of Islamabad High Court by seeking details of the salaries serving judges of the superior and sessions courts draw and the privileges they get – something publicly available.
Justice Rehman expressed his displeasure at the request made during the hearing of advocate Khawar Ameer Bokhari’s petition on Friday that in fact sought increase in the salaries of the judges, commensurate with the inflation rate.
The IHC chief justice remarked that the petitioner was not an aggrieved person, so he had nothing to do with the matter of judges’ salary. The learned judge also warned the petitioner that the court would dismiss his petition with fine for filing such frivolous case.
During the arguments, advocate Bokhari sought details of the monthly salaries, house rent, travelling and daily allowances, medical and fuel allowances, and information related to other facilities being offered to the judges of superior courts as well as the subordinate judiciary.
During the arguments, the petitioner praised the role of judiciary in dispensation of justice and said that the courts were working without any pressure and had given landmark judgments on a number of critical issues and the matters of national importance.
He contended that due to unprecedented inflation and price hike, it had become difficult for common man to survive in limited income resources. The judges are also dependent on their monthly salaries which should be increased in commensurate with inflation rate.
“Since the judges are being paid out of taxpayers money, they wanted to know how their money is being spent,” therefore, they must be apprised of the expenses of the courts, the lawyer added.
According to advocate Bokhari, he approached the finance and law ministries along with written request for the provision of salary details of judges on November 9, under article 19-A of the constitution which guaranteed his access to the required information of public offices.
He said that the officials concerned of the two ministries refused to provide him the required details.
“My right to the access to information has been infringed by the government officials, therefore, I had approached the court to redress my grievance” said the lawyer.
He pointed out that the Supreme Court of Pakistan in a judgment of 1993 “Mian Mohammad Nawaz Sharif versus President of Pakistan” case had declared that the access to information was the fundamental right of a citizen and requested the court to declare illegal the act of officials of ministries of law and finance as illegal.
The lawyer, however, withdrew the petition after the court warned him of dismissal of the petition with fine.
Amjad Iqbal Qureshi, former judge of Islamabad High Court and incumbent presiding officer of anti-dumping appellate tribunal, when contacted said that in 2009 when he was elevated as IHC judge his monthly salary and other allowances were Rs0.35 million.
He said: “It was other than the utility bills of electricity, telephone, gas, water and official cars with chauffeur.”
Currently, “salaries and allowances of judges of the superior courts have almost been doubled than they were drawing in 2009”, he added.
According to the details produced in Senate by law minister Farooq H. Naek On October 12 in response to the question put by senator Haji Mohammad Adeel of Awami National Party, the Chief Justice of Pakistan receives a salary of Rs0.44 million, judicial allowances amounting to Rs0.19 million a house rent of Rs68,000 if official residence is not provided and 15 per cent of the salary as a medical allowance, a chauffeur-driven car with 600 litres monthly petrol, free medical treatment for his family, a rent free residence which is maintained by the government and provisions of electricity, gas and water.
A judge of the apex court receives monthly salary amounting to Rs0.42 million and they enjoy the same perks.
High court judges receive a monthly salary of Rs0.41 million plus other allowances and perks such as a chauffeur-driven car with 500 litre of petrol.
IHC spokesman Sardar Mohammad Tariq Channa when contacted said that the judges salaries are not confidential and the government has all the details related to their salaries and other expenditures.
He said the courts never issued any directions to the ministries or their allied departments to keep confidential the matters related to their salaries and other perks.