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IHC wants ex-CJP to surrender bulletproof car

ISLAMABAD: The judge-turned-politician, former chief justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry may no longer be able to keep the official bulletproof car as the Islamabad High Court (IHC) wants the vehicle surrendered to the court.

Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui, who in January 2014 had directed the federal government to provide the bulletproof vehicle to Mr Chaudhry soon after his retirement, on Friday directed to produce the car as a case property before the court by December 8.

The bulletproof car was provided to Mr Chaudhry after a number of petitioners were filed with the court, seeking foolproof security for him. The petitioners contended that since the former chief justice had dealt with highly sensitive cases, his life was at a stake.

In December last year, Mr Chaudhry formally joined politics by launching his Pakistan Justice and Democratic Party.

Legal circles, however, were of the view that after joining politics the former chief justice should have surrendered the official vehicle.

On May 11, 2016, a division bench of the IHC set aside Justice Siddiqui’s decision of January 2014 after the federal government challenged it. The court remanded the case back to the single-member bench with a direction to hear all the parties and conclude the matter.

Following the decision of the division bench, Justice Siddiqui started the proceedings afresh and issued notices to the ministry of interior, ministry of law and justice and the secretary Cabinet Division with directions to submit replies.

On Friday, Justice Siddiqui remarked that after the two-member division bench set aside the January 2014 order, the car was supposed to be returned to the federal government.

He directed the petitioners to produce the vehicle before the court on the next date of hearing on December 8 and park it on the premises of the IHC till the final adjudication of the matter.

Sheikh Ahsanuddin, who is the spokesperson for Mr Chaudhry’s party, had previously argued before the court that the former CJP needed foolproof security, especially in the wake of attacks on courts in Quetta and Mardan.

In January 2014, Justice Siddiqui had ordered that the “former chief justice shall be provided foolproof security along with the possession of a bulletproof car for his and his family’s use without putting an embargo of any time specification.”

The Cabinet Division in its notification had stated that the vehicle was being provided to the former CJP for three months. In the intra-court appeal, the federal government maintained that there was no precedence for the provision of a bulletproof car to any former CJP. And if the practice was allowed, it would not only open the door for all retired judges of the superior judiciary to seek the same but would also be discriminatory under Article 25 of the Constitution.

Though the former CJP himself had not asked for security, his friends Ahsanuddin and another lawyer Taufiq Asif filed the petitions seeking bulletproof car for him at government expense. The court will take up the case on December 8.

Courtesy : Dawn News



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