ISLAMABAD: Former chief justice of Pakistan (CJP) Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry seems unwilling to surrender the official bulletproof car to Islamabad High Court (IHC) saying the security on the premises of the court was not appropriate to keep such an expensive vehicle there.
The vehicle is currently parked at the residence of the retired CJP.
Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui of the IHC on December 2 had ordered Mr Chaudhry’s counsel to produce the vehicle before the court by December 8 where it would remain parked till the adjudication of the case.
In an intra-court appeal against the interim order of Dec 2, the lawyers for Mr Chaudhry on Monday stated that one of the reasons for the appeal was “the high court premises do not have adequate arrangements to manage the security of the vehicle.” Therefore, the car could not be produced as it is supposed to be parked within the IHC’s premises.
Iftikhar Chaudhry’s lawyers in their intra-court appeal say IHC building lacks security for parking the vehicle
A few days after the retirement of Mr Chaudhry, Justice Siddiqui on January 15, 2014, had directed the federal government to provide the bulletproof car to the ex-CJP along with security staff of Rangers and the Islamabad police.
A division bench of the IHC on May 11, 2016, however, set aside the order and remanded the case back to Justice Siddiqui with the direction to decide the matter after hearing all the stakeholders.
During the preliminary hearing on Dec 2, Justice Siddiqui ordered for the production of the car.
The ICA was filed by the lawyers who had sought the bulletproof vehicle for Mr Chaudhry.
The appeal said, “The learned judge of the high court failed to consider that the vehicle was never handed over by the order of the high court but it was given to the former chief justice of Pakistan on the direction of Prime Minister Mian Mohammad Nawaz Sharif.”
It also reproduced the order for the approval of the bulletproof car for the ex-CJP, which states: “The Prime Minister has been pleased to approve the… Mercedes Benz vehicle No GD-0341 Model 2005 as a special dispensation for a period of 03 months. As per the cost of the POL/maintenance expenditure of the protected vehicle cannot be picked up by the government and has to be paid by the user of the vehicle through personal arrangements.”
Justice Siddiqui in a subsequent order in 2014 had not only extended the possession of the bulletproof car to the ex-CJP for an indefinite period but also directed the law ministry to bear the expense of the car.
In February, the Senate was informed that since January 30, 2014, about 4,689 litres of petrol had been issued to the Mercedes Benz being used by the ex-chief justice.
A repair estimate exceeding Rs3.3 million had also been presented to the law division and funds through a special grant were required from the finance division.
The ICA said due to the fundamental rights and security of the former CJP under the current security situation, the matter was of public importance. “But the single judge of the high court while ordering for the production of the bulletproof vehicle totally ignored the risk and threats to the former CJP.”
It claimed that at present the law and order condition was not satisfactory and the country was witnessing frequent incidents of terrorism.
The ICA requested the court to set aside the order for the production of the bulletproof car till the adjudication of the petitions pending before Justice Siddiqui for adjudication.
A division bench, comprising Justice Noorul Haq N. Qureshi and Justice Aamer Farooq, will hear the ICA on Tuesday.
Published in Dawn, December 6th, 2016