Islamabad - The Islamabad High Court yesterday reserved its verdict in the federal government’s intra-court appeal (ICA) against the provision of bulletproof vehicle to former Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP), Justice (Retd) Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry.

A division bench of the IHC comprising Justice Noor-ul-Haq N Qureshi and Justice Aamir Farooq conducted the hearing of government’s ICA that it has filed against a January 15, 2014 order of an IHC single bench regarding provision of bulletproof vehicle to the former chief justice.

After hearing the arguments of both the sides, the dual bench reserved the judgement which will be announced later.

Sheikh Ahsan-Ud-Din Advocate is focal person of the Pakistan Justice & Democratic Party headed by Iftikhar Chaudhry and on his petition the IHC single member bench had ordered for provision of vehicle to Justice Chaudhry.

Advocate Asif had informed the court that the ministry of interior itself through a letter had informed the former CJP regarding the security threats to his life. At which a deputy attorney general responded that the interior ministry hasn’t written any such letter. Now the security situation is different and the former CJP has no security threats.

Advocate Asif prayed to the court to direct the ministry of interior to depute a responsible person who would apprise the court regarding factual position. At which court issued the above said order and adjourned the hearing.

The government had filed the ICA to retrieve the car from the ex-CJP and in the appeal, the appellants — the cabinet and law secretaries — claimed that they had not been parties in the case which had led to the decision to provide a bulletproof car to Chaudhry.

They further stated that there was no precedent of providing bulletproof cars to former CJPs; and such practices were discriminatory under Article 25 of the Constitution. It stated that the appellants were ready to provide whatever provisions were allowed under the existing rules.

The retired chief justice was provided with the bulletproof car on the direction of a single bench of Islamabad High Court (IHC) in January 2014. While providing the car, the Cabinet Division also issued a notification which stated that the car was being given to the former CJP for three months.

However, in his order, Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui of the IHC held that the ‘time-specific clause is unfeasible, unrealistic and is discriminatory’. The judge also directed the law ministry to bear the expense on the maintenance of the car.

Challenging the order, the federal government in its appeal contended that the Cabinet Division under the special permission of the prime minister had issued the bulletproof car to the former CJP for a period of three months, which was expired in April.

The appeal said the ownership of the car was with the Cabinet Division but the single bench neither sought comments from it nor heard the stance of the law ministry before putting the burden of the maintenance on it.

It pointed out that under sub-section 2 of Section 24 of the “Rules for the Use of Staff Cars 1980,” it was the responsibility of the ministry/division/ department concerned to arrange repair, maintenance and fuel for the cars allotted to their officers.

It said in this particular matter, the Supreme Court administration was responsible for the maintenance and bearing the petrol expense of the bulletproof car given to the ex-CJP. 

On January 15, 2014 Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui of the IHC had directed the federal government to provide Justice Chaudhry with security at par with former prime ministers after he was informed by Joint Secretary Cabinet Division Ziaul Haq that the government had provided bulletproof cars to the three former prime ministers Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani and Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, while no former president had been provided with bulletproof car.