ISLAMABAD – In a major development, the Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to provide audit report details to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), saying the Parliament cannot review judges’ conduct.

The apex court’s argument was made public on a day when the PAC received the list of plots allotted to the top judges and civil servants, which revealed that 15 judges, including three serving ones, and 56 bureaucrats had been allotted more than one plot in Islamabad.

The Supreme Court had replied to a latter written to the registrar during the stint of former PAC chairman Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, which was not dispatched at that time. But the new chairman, Nadeem Afzal Chan, ordered to dispatch it.

The reply said the PAC could not carry out the audit of apex court, as according to Article 68 of the Constitution, the Parliament had no authority to discuss the conduct of judges.

The court, in its letter, told the committee that only the president could decide upon the court’s consultative ambit. “Judges’ conduct also covers judiciary’s administrative and financial matters,” it added.

The letter issued by the Supreme Court’s full court also states that according to various constitutional provisions, the PAC cannot summon any official of the superior judiciary, including the registrar. “If the committee is interested in a formal court order, it should approach the president.”

The letter referred to Article 68 which said: “No discussion shall take place in [Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament)] with respect to the conduct of any judge of the Supreme Court or of a High Court in the discharge of his duties.”

On the other hand, the details provided by the Capital Development Authority (CDA) to the PAC shows the judges have been allotted plots in two different sectors using different eligibility categories - Basic Pay Scale-22 and age wise seniority.

Justice Mian Shakirullah Jan, Justice Tassaduq Hussain and Justice Nasir-ul-Mulk, are the serving judges who got two plots in federal capital. About Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, the report stated that he was not among the beneficiaries.

Agencies add: A senior judge of Supreme Court, Justice (r) Khalil Ur Rehman, was among the beneficiaries.

The name of judges who acquired residential plots include Mansoor Ahmed, Muhammad Nawaz Abbasi, Faqir Muhammad Khokhar, Muhammad Javed Buttar, Syed Ashad, Abdul Hameed Dogar, Sardar Muhammad Raza khan, Mian Shakirullah Jan, Tassaduq Hussain Jillani, Javed Iqbal, Khalil-ur-Rehman Ramday, Falk Sher, Nasir-ul-Mulk, Raja Fayyaz Ahmed, Syed Jamshed Ali, Ghulam Rabbani, Syed Zahid Hussain, Chaudhry Ijaz Ahmed, Muhammad Sair Ali, Anwar Zaheer Ali and Arif Hussain Khilji.

During the meeting, Nadeem Afzal Chan and member committee Noor Alam Khan exchanged harsh words over the absence of Auditor General of Pakistan and defence secretary.

Alam said both the government officials had attended the committee meetings regularly in past, but they did not participate in the meeting after the appointment of the new chairman.

Accusing Chan of desire to protect Auditor General of Pakistan and defence secretary, Alam warned him that he would submit his resignation if he (Chan) protected them in future.

Upon which, the PAC chairman said they had left the meeting after getting permission from him.

The meeting reviewed the audit objections raised by of Ministry of State and frontier region, Textile Ministry and federal accountability for fiscal year 2004-05.

Chan warned the account officers of all the ministries to appear before the committee’s next meeting with full preparation.

Monitoring desk adds: During the meeting, Nadeem Afzal Chan termed allotment of more one plots a move similar to the NRO that was being exercised in case of judges.