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Saturday February 24, 2024

In a first, SC releases information under Article 19-A

Supreme Court provided information a citizen has struggled to obtain for more than four years by invoking the Right of Access to Information Act (2017) and Article 19-A of the Constitution

October 25, 2023
CJP Qazi Faez Isa is seen speaking during full court proceedings at the Supreme Court of Pakistan, in this still taken from a video. — YouTube/PTV News Live
CJP Qazi Faez Isa is seen speaking during full court proceedings at the Supreme Court of Pakistan, in this still taken from a video. — YouTube/PTV News Live

ISLAMABAD: In a first, the Supreme Court of Pakistan has provided the information a citizen has struggled to obtain for more than four years by invoking the Right of Access to Information Act (2017) and Article 19-A of the Constitution.

The registrar of the SC dispatched information to the requester, Mukhtar Ahmad Ali. He had asked for details of total sanctioned strength of staff members of the apex court, the positions lying vacant, number of contractual staff, the positions created from 2017 onward, strength of female staff, number of disabled persons employed by the court, transgenders inducted against various positions and a certified copy of the latest approved service rules of the court.

Through a landmark judgment on October 16 this year, a two-member bench, headed by Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa, decided in favour of the applicant, Mukhtar Ahmed Ali, acknowledging his right under Article 19-A.

Justice Qazi ruled the Right of Access to Information Act didn’t explicitly apply on the court leaving the matter for the parliament to amend the law in order to bring the apex court under this law’s jurisdiction as a public body.

However, Justice Athar Minallah, in additional note, wrote that prima facie SC had not been expressly excluded from the definition of “public bodies” mentioned in the law.

According to details shared by the registrar, the total sanctioned posts of the SC staff is 894 and 207 positions are vacant, which include the post of director general (monitoring cell), two positions of additional registrars and directors each, staff officer to Chief Justice, translator, revenue record officer and others.

Majority of the vacant positions (17) of upper division and lower division clerks each, EPB (15), sweeper (14), assistant private secretaries (13), steno-typists (10), naib qasid (10) and senior assistants (7).

The court has as many as 146 staffers who have either been engaged on daily wages basis or through short/long-term contracts against various positions. Majority of them (81) are naib qasids, followed by drivers (42) and law clerks (16). Out of 84 new posts introduced from 2017 to 2023, majority of them (63) were created in 2023 when Umar Ata Bandial was Chief Justice. Two posts each were created in 2017 and 2018, four each in 2019, 2020 and 2022.

The apex court has 45 female staff members and 33 of them are regular, including 15 those working at positions of BS-17 and above. At the top of them, is the registrar, Jazeela Aslam, a district and sessions judge, brought to SC by CJ. Aslam was the first appointment he made after assuming his office. The court has two persons with disabilities in its staff of 687 members. One of them is a telephone operator and another naib qasid. Likewise, it has employed two transgenders in BS-2 as naib qasid.