Pensions, Benefits For Justice Rana Shamim, Other Retired Judges Of GB's Top Court Challenged

Petitioners argue that the pensions and benefits were ensured per an order of the Supreme Court in 2008, which was declared unlawful by the top court in 2013

Pensions, Benefits For Justice Rana Shamim, Other Retired Judges Of GB's Top Court Challenged

The Supreme Court has overruled objections raised by its registrar's office on a Constitution petition filed against the entitlement of pension and benefits for the chief judge and other judges serving in the Supreme Appellate Court of Gilgit-Baltistan. The top court will now hear the petition in June.

The judges who this case will impact include former chief judge of Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) Rana Muhammad Shamim, who had submitted an affidavit accusing the former chief justice of Pakistan (CJP) Saqib Nisar of manipulating judicial proceedings to delay the release of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz through a judge of the Islamabad High Court (IHC).

Rana Shamim, however, later disowned the affidavit.

According to the petition, Shamim completed his three-year term as the chief judge on August 30, 2018, at the age of 68, and applied for his pension and other benefits to the Auditor General of Pakistan. The auditor, however, raised certain legal objections to his claim for pension. The matter was referred to the Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit Baltistan ministry, which then allowed the pension and benefits.

A division bench of the apex court, headed by Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, heard the petition filed by Advocate Muhammad Ibrahim through his lawyer, Advocate Arif Chaudhry.

During the hearing, Arif questioned whether the chief judge of the Supreme Appellate Court for Gilgit-Baltistan is appointed for three years under Article 60(8) of the Gilgit-Baltistan (Empowerment and Self-Governance) Order, 2009, and therefore, whether he is entitled to the pension.

He argued that pensions are granted to judges of the GB court in light of a 2008 judgment. However, he argued that in 2013, the judgment had been declared to be unlawful (per incuriam) by the Supreme Court as far as pensions and benefits for judges of the superior courts from the date of their respective retirement, irrespective of their length of service as such judges.

The court noted that this aspect can best be appreciated and resolved on the judicial side, thus objections raised by the registrar's office were overruled. "The office is directed to number the petition and fix it for hearing on June 11, 2024," reads the written order.

The petitioner has urged the SC to recover the Rs67.306 million pension commutation paid by the Accountant General of Pakistan along with the monthly pension drawn by former chief judge Rana Muhammad Shamim from September 1, 2018, to date and to stop the monthly pension payment. 

It is also pleaded that other privileges illegally extended to Rana Shamim, such as the provision of down payment, vehicle, and staff—both regular and contingent—be recalled forthwith.

The writer is an Islamabad based journalist working with The Friday Times. He tweets @SabihUlHussnain