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ISLAMABAD: Former chief justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry has finally agreed to part with his official bulletproof vehicle after a petition seeking to retain the vehicle as part of his security was dismissed.

A lawyer close to Justice Chaudhry has filed an intra-court appeal (ICA) against the rejection of the petition, but the former chief justice has said that the bulletproof vehicle may be returned to the Cabinet Division through the office of the Supreme Court registrar.

Advocate Ahsanuddin Sheikh, a close aide of Justice Chaudhry, produced a letter before an Islamabad High Court (IHC) division bench of IHC Chief Justice Mohammad Anwar Kasi and Justice Aamer Farooq.

The letter included details regarding the provision of the official vehicle to him through the SC registrar’s office in 2013.

Referring to a March 9 judgement by IHC Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani that had dismissed the plea seeking provision of the vehicle, Justice Chaudhry said that although an ICA against the decision is pending adjudication, “the vehicle is to be returned to the Cabinet Division”.

It stated: “As vehicle was provided through registrar office, a representative may be deputed to handover the vehicle to concern functionary of Cabinet Division.”

The IHC division bench on the other hand has suspended Justice Kayani’s judgement.

In the appeal, the appellant advocate Ahsanddin Sheikh stated that the former chief justice required ample security due to apparent threats to his life. He said the security staff deputed with the former chief justice may not be withdrawn.

In his judgement, Justice Kayani had ruled that a retired judge may only avail those facilities that have been provided in the rules.

According to a 2016 amendment in the presidential order titled the Supreme Court Judges (Leave, Pension and Privileges) Order 1997, SC judges were allowed to avail “round the clock posting of a security guard at the residence by the concerned police during the lifetime of a retired judge”.

However, the law ministry in October last year submitted a letter before the IHC while the case was pending before Justice Kayani according to which 16 SC judges retained official security after their retirement.

Retired SC judges have 43 police officials for their security, of which 14 are for the security of Justice Chaudhry.

According to law and justice ministry documents, the former chief justice not only has the maximum number of police officials for his security, but the government has also deputed three officially maintained vehicles – a bulletproof car and two escort vehicles – for him at taxpayers’ expense.

The IHC division bench has admitted the appeal for regular hearing and issued notices to the Cabinet Division and the ministries of law and justice and interior, and put off the hearing for a fortnight.

Published in Dawn, March 23rd, 2018