SC to rehear 'Rs 1.6bn misappropriations case' about judges
07 September, 2013
ISLAMABAD: A rare controversy involving alleged monetary misappropriation has surfaced among the Supreme Court judges pertaining to the deposit of approximately Rs 1.64 billion in public exchequer by the retired high courts judges, which was given to them in the name of pension, formerly.
It has been noticed that difference of opinion have also emerged among the members of a seven-judge bench on a proposal by one of the judges to send the review petitions of the affected judges back to Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry to re-hear the matter afresh on a suo motu.
Of the total Rs1.64 billion recovered from 69 judges, Rs858,135,924 had to be returned by 36 retired judges of the Lahore High Court, Rs397,542,434 from 17 judges of the Peshawar High Court, Rs46,166,468 from two judges of the Balochistan High Court and Rs345,285,380 from 14 judges of the Sindh High Court.
Earlier, a five-member bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali including Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, Justice Muhammad Ather Saeed and Justice Iqbal Hameedur Rahman, on April 11, 2013 issued a short order affecting 69 retired judges of different high courts commands them to return whatever benefits they received as pension despite completing mandatory 5-year service. The aggregated amount of all incentives stood at Rs1.64 billion.
In a detailed judgment, which was issued on June 7, three judges of the bench – Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, Justice Athar Saeed and Justice Iqbal Hameedur Rehman – had given dissenting notes, opposing the retrospective effect of the judgement. On July 10 when a seven-judge larger bench took up the review petition of these retired judges, they appeared one by one to insist they should be allowed to withdraw their review petitions unconditionally since the detailed reasons had come in their favour. But Justice Jawwad S Khawaja, who was heading the bench, announced to go through the entire history of the case.
Justice Jawwad said the matter may be fixed for re-hearing in court so that the petitioners could be heard and any apprehension that the review petitioners may have unwittingly withdrawn their petitions, without realizing the consequences of withdrawal simpliciter, may be allayed and they may have the opportunity of addressing the court (despite unconditional withdrawal of their review petitions).
He ruled that though the review petitions should be allowed to be withdrawn, the short order be implemented with all consequences.
Referring to the opinion of three judges in the detailed reasons on a point that the amount received by the retired judges should not be taken back, Justice Khawaja observed with great humility that it appeared the settled principles of law enunciated by this court may have escaped their notice.
But Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, in his additional note, took a divergent view and observed that in his opinion the review petitions should be dismissed as has been done in a similar case by a different bench since these have been unconditionally withdrawn. Moreover neither the federal government nor the accountant general of Pakistan has come in review to challenge the detailed reasons passed pursuant to the short order.
Justice Nisar also opposed with the suggestion of suo motu proceedings, questioning whether the suo motu would also be taken up if in any case majority of judges on any legal or factual issues have taken a different view and huge sum of public money was involved.
He also emphasised about the wisdom in law that review petitions, generally and ordinarily, should be heard by the bench that originally heard the matter in the first case. Justice Nisar also explained that the April 14 short order was never formulated and never meant to be final and conclusive in regard of the recovery of amount and thus detailed reasons in this context were avoided.
In the end Justice Jawwad S Khawaja ordered to re-fix the matter believed to be before the seven-judge bench.