An intra-court appeal was filed before the Islamabad High Court on Monday to ‘set aside’ an earlier order by the High Court for production of a bulletproof car provided to former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Iftikhar Muhammed Chaudhry.

The appeal, citing “great concern about the life and security of former CJP and his family” appealed that the latest order by the IHC to produce and surrender the vehicle on the 8th of December “ignored the risk and threats to the former CJP” and issued the learned Judge “dealt with the matter in haste and mechanical manner.”

On the 2nd of December Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui ordered that the former justice produce the vehicle before the court as case property on the next hearing (8th December) where it shall remain parked till the case has been decided.

Interestingly it was Justice Siddiqui who had issued the order in 2014 to the federal government to provide a bulletproof vehicle to the former justice. However after a two-member bench set his January 2014 order aside, Justice Siddiqui remarked that the vehicle should have been returned to the government.

The matter of providing a bulletproof car to Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry predates his retirement, when as the Chief Justice of Pakistan the now retired justice had expressed the desire to retain his official bulletproof vehicle through the PPP government’s monetization scheme.

The scheme launched in 2011 allowed civil servants between BPS-20 till BPS-22 to buy the official vehicles in their use at a cost calculated at an annual depreciation of 15 percent.

Prior to Iftikhar Chaudhry’s retirement the Supreme Court registrar had written to the cabinet division but received no reply. Days before his retirement a deputy registrar followed up on the request suggesting a new bulletproof car be provided for the new chief justice.

The request for provision of a new bulletproof car for CJ Jillani was later withdrawn after the bulletproof car was returned.

Not just any bulletproof car

In 2009 when Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry was Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, his name appeared on the top of a list of possible targets that terrorists may target.

Upon his retirement in December 2013 the cabinet division provided the retired justice with a Mercedes-Benz armoured vehicle. However unhappy with the 1991 model car it was promptly returned with a note that the condition of the vehicle did not “meet the requirements of travelling.”

In January 2014 Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui ordered that the former chief justice be provided security equivalent to former prime ministers.

The order read: “former chief justice shall be provided foolproof security along with the possession of a bullet proof car for his and his family’s use without putting embargo of any time specification.”

The bench had earlier remarked according to media reports at the time, that if the former chief justice is not provided with a bulletproof vehicle then all those provided to government officials would also be withdrawn.

In light of the court’s order, a bulletproof car was provided to the former chief justice with expenses to be borne by the government.

Enter Politics

In December 2015 Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry formally joined politics and launched his own party.

After the former justice became a politician the Law Ministry approached the Attorney General to explore possibilities of getting relief from the court.

The ministry was of the view that since the former CJP had joined politics “Thus the use of official car and petrol by a politician under the coverage of the high court order has become a serious point of criticism of the government by the public as well as politicians.”

Seeking relief the ministry added details of expenditure to the tune of Rs. 4 million that had been incurred on the vehicle between January 2014 and January 2016.

Whether the honourable court allows the former justice-turned-politician to retain the bulletproof vehicle at the taxpayer’s expense or surrender it before the court will now be decided on the 8th of December.