ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court office on Friday returned with objections a petition moved to seek direction for reconsidering pension and other service benefits to the retired judges of high courts.

The SC registrar office returned the petition moved by Advocate Zulfikar Ahmed Bhutta citing reasons that the petitioner has not pointed out as to what questions of public importance were involved in the present case with reference to the enforcement of any of the fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution to directly invoke the jurisdiction of the SC under Article 184(3).

Moreover, the president of Pakistan has been impleaded as respondent in the petition when this high office cannot be made party under Article 248, said a single-page registrar order.

Article 248 deals with protection to the president, governor, the prime minister and ministers since they were not answerable to any court for the exercise of the powers and performance of functions of their respective office or for any act done or purported to be done in the exercise of those powers and performance of those functions.

In his petition, Mr Bhutta had cited the president as respondent and had pleaded before the court that the president be asked to reconsider the service benefits like the pension and allowances of the retired high court judges.

According to the High Court Judges (Leave, Pension and Privileges) Order 1997 the chief justice and the judges of the high courts on their retirement, resignation or removal will be entitled to the minimum pension equal to 70 per cent of the salary determined by the president from time to time payable on the completion of five-years service for pension as judge and thereafter an extra pension at the rate of two per cent of such salary for each subsequent completed year of service as the chief justice or, as the case may be, the judge, including his service, if any, in the service of Pakistan, the maximum pension not exceeding 80pc of the salary.

Advocate Riaz Hanif Rahi when contacted told Dawn that after retirement, a high court judge also enjoys the services of a driver or an orderly, 800 free local calls per month, 800 units of electricity per month as well as 25 cubic metres of natural gas, free supply of water, 150 litres of petrol per month etc.

Zulfikar Bhutta’s petition argued that in view of the worst financial circumstances, the people of the country were struggling to get by.

The petition contended that under Article 205, the president enjoys the authority to determine the remuneration and other terms and conditions of service of judges of the SC or the high courts as provided in the Fifth Schedule.

Therefore, reconsideration of such huge financial benefits to the judges was necessary to save the country from financial burden. Meanwhile the registrar office, while returning the petition, contended that the petitioner was invoking extraordinary jurisdiction of the SC under Article 184(3) for the redressal of an individual grievance, which was not permissible in terms of 1998 judgment in the Zulfikar Mehdi case.

Published in Dawn, January 7th, 2023

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