Islamabad, December 13, 2012 (PPI-OT): The Supreme Court of Pakistan keeps the Public Accounts Committee of the National Assembly in the highest esteem. The Committee has been duly informed that notwithstanding the respect and sanctity attached with its working, the law and the Constitution warrants that the Registrar of the Supreme Court is not required to appear before it.
The issue of appearance of Registrar, Supreme Court of Pakistan before Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has been discussed in many Full Court meetings wherein it was decided that under the Constitution as well as the law, the PAC is not competent to scrutinize the accounts of the Supreme Court, hence the Registrar is not required to appear before it. Reference in this regard be made to the mandatory requirement of the Constitution.
In its very Preamble, the Constitution states, “… it is the will of the people of Pakistan to establish an order; Wherein the independence of the judiciary shall be fully secured;” To materialize this objective, the Constitution [vide Art 175(3)] ordains the separation of judiciary from the executive.
The Founding Fathers of the (1973) Constitution took pains to stress the principle of independence of judiciary. In his address to the Constitute Assembly (on 10th April 1973), the then President (late Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto) said, “In a parliamentary system the legislature has to be supreme, but the supremacy of the legislature is not unfettered.
The supremacy of the legislature has been restricted by the incorporation to the fundamental rights. And these fundamental rights have been protected by a provision for the independence of judiciary”. And to fortify the principle, Art 68 puts restriction on discussion in Parliament with respect to the conduct of any Judge of the superior courts.
Indeed, under the financial procedure of the Supreme Court, apart from the Registrar, the Chief Justice and senior judges of the Supreme Court do accord sanction of money for procurement and payments e.g. purchase of books, equipment, transport, stationary, payment of medical bills, etc, in keeping with functions assigned to them. And since the Constitution places a complete ban on any discussion in Parliament as regards “the conduct of any Judge… in the discharge of duties”, therefore, the PAC, being a Committee of the Parliament, is not authorized to do so.
The PAC is a Standing Committee on Public Accounts constituted under Rule 202 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the National Assembly, 2007. The Public Accounts of the Federation are defined in Article 78(2) of the Constitution as all moneys, NOT forming part of the Federal Consolidated Fund. These sums which are: –
“(a) Received by or on behalf of the Federal Government; or
(b) Received by or deposited with the Supreme Court or any other court established under the authority of the Federation; Shall be credited to the Public Account of the Federation”.
Only such revenues as DO NOT form part of the Federal Consolidated Fund, are thus credited to and comprise the Public Accounts of the Federation.
The PAC, in terms of Rules 202 and 203 of the Rules has the mandate only in respect of the Public Accounts of the Federation. The expenditure on remuneration payable to the Judges of the Supreme Court and the administrative expenses of the Supreme Court, including the remuneration payable to its officers and servants, are NOT paid from the Public Accounts of the Federation. As per Article 81 of the Constitution such salaries and administrative expenses are charged upon the Federal Consolidated Fund. Since the Federal Consolidated Fund is separate from and falls outside the domain of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts, such Standing Committee cannot raise any issues/questions relating to the expenditures of the Supreme Court.
The sums expended on salaries/administrative expenses of the Supreme Court are audited by the Auditor General of Pakistan. The Supreme Court, on its own initiative has put in place a pre-audit system in association with the office of the Auditor General. Disbursements from the budget of the Supreme Court are audited before and after disbursement and as such are fully and transparently reflected in the annual report of the Auditor General. To date, the Auditor General has not raised any audit para in respect of the accounts of the Supreme Court.
In this context of the matter, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) vide its letter No.F.1(1)/2011/JS (PAC) dated 29.11.2012 again approached the Supreme Court asking for appearance of the Registrar before its meeting to be held on 14th December, 2012.
The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has been duly informed vide Supreme Court’s letter No.F.1-7/2008-2009/B and A dated 11.12.2012 that in view of the decisions taken by the Full Court meetings, based on provisions of the Constitution and law, the Registrar, Supreme Court is not required to appear before the Public Accounts Committee meetings. It has also been clarified to the PAC that accounts of the apex Court of the country have been continuously audited by the Federal Audit. The Supreme Court administration has never declined the auditing of its accounts.
The last annual external audit of accounts of this Court for the financial year 2009-10 was conducted in September 2010, whereas, the external audit for the years 2010-11 and 2011-12 is awaited. In this regard, the Supreme Court administration has already received letter No.Coord/Audit-Intimation/2012-13/F-690/260 dated 29.6.2012 from the Director General Audit, Islamabad that their audit parties will be visiting the Supreme Court for conducting the audit.
For more information, contact:
Shahid Hussain Kamboyo
Public Relations Officer
Supreme Court of Pakistan
Tel: +9251 920 4184
Fax: +9251 920 1001