ISLAMABAD: The Islam­abad High Court (IHC) on Thursday reserved its judgement on identical petitions filed by the Supreme Court of Pakistan and the Ministry of Law and Justice against the decision of the Pakistan Information Commission (PIC) for disclosure of details of the apex court’s employees.

IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah heard the petitions.

Attorney General Khalid Jawed Khan requested the court to set aside the PIC’s order.

Initially, the Supreme Court through its registrar had filed the petition, but when Justice Minallah questioned how the Supreme Court could file the petition, the Ministry of Law came up with an identical petition.

Says citizens must not be under impression that judiciary is hiding anything from them

Justice Minallah asked the AG as to how the law ministry became aggrieved by a judgement issued for the Supreme Court.

The AG pointed out that the law ministry had in the past as well filed petitions in similar cases as it notified appointments of judges of superior courts and that was why the ministry had challenged the PIC’s order.

The IHC chief justice reminded the AG that the writ against the PIC could only be issued upon the court’s satisfaction that either the Supreme Court or the law ministry was aggrieved at the commission’s decision.

AG Khan argued that the law ministry had filed the petition with the consent of the Supreme Court’s registrar.

Justice Minallah said the apex court meant the chief justice and all other judges of the Supreme Court and asked the AG whether the decision to file the petition had been made by SC judges.

The AG replied that he did not ask the SC registrar about this.

The PIC had on July 12, 2021, allowed an application filed by one Mukhtar Ahmed seeking information about the sanctioned strength of SC staff from BS-1 to BS-22, vacant positions, daily wagers, posts created after January 1, 2017, persons with disability and transgenders working in the top court of the country.

The SC registrar had filed a review plea against the PIC’s order which was dismissed on Nov 17, 2021.

Justice Minallah told the AG that Mukhtar Ahmed had not sought any confidential information related to judges of the Supreme Court, adding that the IHC had ordered an inquiry into illegal appointments in the high court.

He remarked that citizens of the country should not be under any impression that the superior judiciary was concealing anything from them.

The AG said that had he been the registrar of the SC, he would have shared details of SC employees with the citizens.

Justice Minallah in a lighter note suggested to the AG to get the details from the SC registrar and share it with the petitioner seeking the information.

Published in Dawn, December 31st, 2021

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