islamabad - The Islamabad High Court yesterday deferred the hearing in the government’s intra-court appeal challenging the provision of bulletproof vehicle to former Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhary but issued notice to inspector general of Islamabad police in a contempt of court petition filed in the same matter. A division bench of IHC comprising Justice Noor-ul-Haq N Qureshi and Justice Aamer Farooq conducted the hearing of the government’s ICA and deferred the hearing till February 22.

During the hearing, Additional Attorney General Afnan Karim Kundi contended before the court that the vehicle was given to the former chief justice for three months after the approval of the prime minister.

After his arguments, Advocate Sheikh Ashanuddin and Toufique Asif Advocate argued on a contempt of court petition in this matter, saying that security was provided to the former chief justice on the directions of a single bench of IHC and now the authorities have taken back a guard and a mobile squad vehicle while the matter is still pending before this court. They prayed to the court to initiate contempt of court proceedings against IG Islamabad police, DIG Operations and SSP Islamabad. After hearing their arguments, the court issued notices to the respondents 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. The appeal 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 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, Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui of the IHC in his order held that the ‘time-specific clause is unfeasible, unrealistic and 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 subsection 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.