ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court on Thursday sought the assistance of the attorney general for Pakistan in deciding the maintainability of a petition seeking disclosure of the entire workforce working in the Supreme Court.

The registrar of the Supreme of Court, Jawad Paul, through Additional Attorney General (AAG) Amir Rehman, filed the petition in the Islamabad High Court against the order of the Pakistan Information Commission (PIC).

The PIC had on July 12 this year allowed an application filed by a citizen, Mukhtar Ahmed, seeking information about the sanctioned strength of Supreme Court staff of BS-1-22, vacant posts, daily wage earners, posts created after January 1, 2017, persons with disabilities and transgenders working in the apex court.

The SC registrar filed a review against the PIC order, which was dismissed on November 17 this year.

Petition says Pakistan Information Commission failed to comprehend the difference between law and Constitution

Subsequently, the SC registrar through the petition, filed in the IHC, requested the high court declare the information commission’s directive as illegal.

IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah heard the petition.

AAG Rehman argued that the PIC could not issue such an order under the law.

He informed the court that the PIC, when approached, said that they had no powers to further review the decision under the law.

Justice Minallah asked AAG Rehman as to how the Supreme Court registrar was an aggrieved party in this case and whether the court could issue a writ against or for the SC registrar.

Further hearing of the case was adjourned for three weeks.

According to the petition, the PIC, under Section 17 of the Right of Access to Information Act, can give a decision about designated official of a public body.

The petition contended that the PIC erred in law while observing that the Supreme Court is a public body and failed to comprehend the difference between the federal law and the Constitution as the source

of law, adding that Articles 191 and 202 empowered the Supreme Court and high courts to frame rules regulating their practice and procedure.

The petition stated that “the direction issued by the PIC in exercise of power under section 20 (e) of the Act for the notification of designated officer under section 9 of the Act and to take measure for publication of information and record…applicable to public bodies and not to the constitutional court”.

It further stated that “only information which tends to erode the independence of judiciary is withheld, not to avoid scrutiny or to shut out transparency but in the larger interest of the public for ensuring the

independence of the judiciary which is necessary for effectively enforcing the fundamental right to ensure due process of law and access to justice”.

The petition requested the court to declare the PIC order as illegal.

Applicant Mukhtar Ahmed initially sought information from the Supreme Court. He approached the PIC upon refusal by the SC registrar to provide the same.

Published in Dawn, December 3rd, 2021

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