LAHORE: The Punjab Finance Department has declared two administrative orders of the Lahore High Court (LHC) for upward revision of rates of utility allowances for court employees, judicial officers and staff of the district judiciary as non-implementable unless approved by the competent authority.

In a five-page letter to all district accounts officer in the province, the deputy treasury officer (DTO) of the finance department says the orders by the LHC can’t be lawfully issued without prior consultation with the department.

“The orders under consideration do not disclose that these have been issued after prior consultation with the finance department,” it adds.

The letter states that resources for payment of remuneration are arranged through tax or non-tax receipts, reduction in expenditures, borrowing or sale of assets. Therefore, it says, if it is assumed that chief justice enjoys final authority to sanction remuneration and approve budget for the purpose, it would amount to giving him power of the purse and other allied powers.

“Framers of the Constitution are not believed to have given such blanket powers to the honourable judiciary,” the letter explains.

It argues that the power to determine conditions of service is a legislative or executive power, which has not been vested in the LHC chief justice.

The letter by the DTO says a notification relied upon by the LHC to issue the orders is not relevant for the purpose of revision of the rates of the utility allowance. It submits that the Constitution cannot be interpreted to mean that an executive order can be issued by the chief justice to end alleged discrimination or exploitation.

“Even if such an order is issued in judicial capacity in a case properly brought for adjudication, that can merely declare an act of discrimination unconstitutional,” argues the letter.

It explains that the question of determination of enumeration is a question of policy, therefore, outside the jurisdiction of the high court. It maintains that the orders issued by the LHC need not to be implemented until approved by the competent authority in the prescribed manner. The letter has also been forwarded to secretary finance and accountant general of Punjab.

Published in Dawn, February 23rd, 2020