ISLAMABAD : The Supreme Court has suspended interior ministry’s March 14 notification, which granted unlimited perks and privileges to former ministers, especially the interior ministers.

Regarding the matter related to the unprecedented security protocol to ex-prime ministers, the court asked the Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) to file para-wise comments today (Thursday).

A five member bench hearing a suo moto case was informed that Rs272.51 millions would be spent annually from public exchequer if the order passed by former PM Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, extending an unprecedented security protocol to him and his predecessor Yousaf Raza Gilani, is implemented.

The bench, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, also summoned interior secretary today (Thursday) for issuing notification regarding the security protocol to the former ministers. The court observed that prima facie the notification was issued without lawful authority. According to the notification, former federal ministers, excluding the caretaker ministers, can benefit from the facilities like protocol coverage to be provided by Federal Investigation Agency to the ministers, their spouses and children at all airports of the country; and Service of a Personal Staff Officer/Assistant Private Secretary/Personal Assistant, a driver, and an orderly, all to be appointed by the National Data Base Regulatory Authority.

During the hearing, Advocate on Record Raja Abdul Ghafoor, appearing on behalf of former Interior Minister Rehman Malik, stated that his client was facing severe security threats from Taliban, therefore he needed security.

Upon this, the bench observed that it was the responsibility of state to secure life and property of all citizens without any discrimination in view of Article 9 of the constitution but in this case, a notification was issued for giving protocol service to a certain minister, just before he was to leave the office.

Meanwhile, Sindh Advocate General Fateh Malik submitted para-wise comments over Sindh Assembly’ passing of two private bills on March 14 granting lifetime monetary and other benefits to the outgoing chief ministers, speakers and deputy speakers. He submitted that subject matter of salaries and privileges of the chief minister and speaker falls within the domain of the provincial legislature, which is competent under clause (c) of the Article 142 of the constitution.

Justice Azmat Saeed observed that passing such bills by the assembly did not close the chapter. The CJP also asked that who would bear the burden for extending of lifetime protocol to chief minister, speaker and deputy speaker. The counsel for provincial law ministry Khalid Javed Khan requested the bench to give sometime for giving legal justifications of this Sindh Assembly’s legislation.

Attorney General for Pakistan could not furnish par-wise comments about the former PM’s order as he was busy with another court hearing. The hearing of the case was adjourned for today (Thursday).

According to the former PM Raja’s order, a contingent of 450 police personnel would be taken from Islamabad Police, out of them 150 would be deployed for Raja’s own security and the same number of personnel would be deployed for Yousaf Raza Gillani’s security.

Special protocol/security of special squad of 15 Rangers and 15 Frontier Constabulary force would be provided to five former prime ministers during their intercity movement. Their names have been mentioned to be as Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani, Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and Zafarullah Khan Jamali.

A batch of five DSPs of Islamabad Territory, led by DIG Dr Sultan Azam Taimoori, was called at PM House on 15-3-2013 evening for selection of a DSP to head the force. A contingent of 450 police personnel consisting of ex-army jawans, inducted in the ICT police by the former government on a three years contract, are to be spared for this purpose and the vacuum created by their departure is to be filled by fresh recruitment, according to the plan.