LAHORE - A judgment reserved on a writ petition seeking sanction of  increment in judicial, utility and car allowances for about 390 employees of  the Punjab Advocate General office awaits announcement for the last 13  months, TheNation has learnt.

The petition was filed in Oct 2009 by the employees of Punjab Advocate  General office, and was heard by then LHC judge Justice Mian Saqib Nisar,  who is currently working as Supreme Court judge.

Meanwhile, Justice Ijazul Ahsan took up the petition and on March 2, 2011 reserved the verdict after recording arguments of the petitioners and Punjab government.

According to senior lawyers there is no specific rules that allows reserving  any judgment for more than one year, however, a judgment can be reserved for an appropriate time only.

A judgment may be reserved maximum for 90 days and otherwise the rehearing of that case would be started, Lahore High Court Bar Association Secretary Sardar Akbar Ali said. However, he said, there was acute shortage of judges in the Lahore High Court owing to which such instant cases were pending for many years.

Petitioners Sadaqat Ali, Mehmood Ali and others employee of the said office had submitted that their nature of job was similar to that of LHC staff.

They said LHC staff was being accorded 30 per cent judicial allowance by the Punjab government. The advocate general staff was denied the said benefit. Later, they approached the LHC which issued order in their favour on June 2008.

The provincial finance department on Nov 22, 2008 had issued a notification enhancing the percentage of the judicial allowance along with utility and car stipend to the staff of LHC with effect from Jan 1, 2008, petitioners added.

They said the finance department, however, refused to enhance benefit in accordance with the same notification in favour of the petitioners by observing that the advocate general office was an attached department of Provincial Law and Parliamentary Affairs Department instead of the Lahore High Court. The petitioners submitted that denial by the provincial authorities from increment in allowance was illegal because earlier the LHC had granted the benefit of judicial allowance to the employees of advocate general office. The Punjab government had failed to devise a mechanism to administer equal benefits to both the advocate general staff and the LHC employees since the establishment of the advocate general office despite the fact that the LHC had granted them equal facilities in 2008 case, the petitioners said.

They further pointed out that the government on Aug 4, 2009 had granted three times special judicial allowance on initial basic pay to the establishment of LHC and the benefit of same allowance was also extended to the staff of the Supreme Court. While, the employees of advocate general office had been discriminated by not giving the said allowance, they added.

Justice Ijazul Ahsan had recorded the arguments of both parties in different hearings and on March 2, 2011 reserved the decision on the petition which was not announced so far despite the lapse of more than one year, the employees of the AG office regretted.   “We have contacted so many times to the court of Justice Ijazul Ahsan for the announcement of reserved judgment but his staff always advised them for patience,” he claimed. A senior officer of LHC establishment claimed that it was the discretion of any judge to reserve the decision of any case according to his own wishes.

“It is a murder of justice to reserve any decision in any case for 13 months. No law authorises to delay the announcement of reserved judgments for such long period,” another lawyer Aftab Ahmad Bajwa said.