ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court has said that the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) is not authorised to audit its accounts, nor can the conduct of judges be discussed in Parliament.
In a letter to the PAC of the National Assembly, the apex court said that the Supreme Court, of its own initiative, has put in place a pre-audit mechanism, whereby transparency in its spending and accounting process is ensured even before a sum is disbursed from the budget of the court. This pre-audit exercise is undertaken in association with the office of the Auditor General, which has opened the counter of the Accountant General of Pakistan Revenues in the premises of the Supreme Court building. “It is to be clarified that the constitutional provisions, guaranteed the autonomy of the Court and are meant to ensure its independence from other principal organs of State viz, parliament and the executive.”
The letter from SC added, “The discussion took place in the full Court meeting and there was general consensus that in view of various constitutional provisions relating to the autonomy and independence of this court, the PAC did not have the jurisdiction to ask the registrar or any other functionary of the Supreme Court to appear before it.”
In its reply, the SC also referred to Article 68 of the Constitution that reads: “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. There is a complete ban on discussion on the conduct of judges in parliament. Such conduct would include the discharge of their duties in the administrative and financial affairs of the court.”
The letter concluded that if despite these clear provisions, the PAC desires a judicial verdict, it may approach the President to invoke the advisory jurisdiction of the Supreme Court. The SC wrote this letter in response to a letter written by Ch Nisar Ali Khan in his capacity as chairman of PAC to Registrar Supreme Court of Pakistan on October 22, 2009 calling him to appear before the PAC as Principal Accounting Officer of the SC.
PAC chairman Nadeem Afzal Gondal unveiled the letter on Tuesday and made public the reply of SC to the letter written to it by former Chairman PAC Chaudhry Nisar. Gondal also directed that a letter be written to the PM to inform him about the inefficiency of the Ministry of Textile secretary for not holding the departmental accounting committee’s meeting.