LAHORE - In what is the first of its kind, a citizen has moved the Lahore High Court seeking accountability of judges and generals like other citizens of the country.

The petition came from Advocate Ghulam Yaseen Bhatti but the Lahore High Court’s registrar office said that the matter would be taken up after winter vacation to be ended on January 8.  The provincial’s top court observes two-week winter vacation every year. The judges of the superior courts have Supreme Judicial Council for their accountability while the army generals claim that they have their own system of accountability.

The LHC Registrar Office held it is not so urgent matter that can be fixed during vacation.

The petitioner submitted that the LHC had held in its judgment PLD 1978 Lahore 523 (663) that “Islam does not believe in the creation of the privileged classes, it believes in equality before law of all. Ruler and the governed alike. It is opposed to all kinds of class distinctions.”.

He continued: “No one is above the law. Even immunity under Article 248 of the Constitution is not available to the PM for any criminal act or anything which is contrary to law.  There are no provisions in the Constitution of Pakistan creating a special institution, a court or tribunal for the accountability of judges and generals. Hence, they (judges and generals) are bound by the accountability laws applicable to other holders of public publications.”

The petitioner also cited SC Justice Dost Muhammad’s remarks reading: “ I’m supporter of judges and generals’ accountability and this trial under the accountability laws should be held as it is held for common citizens”.

Bhati said: “If a learned judge or a general possesses any assets or pecuniary resources disproportionate to his known sources of income or maintain a standard of living beyond that which is not commensurate with his sources of income, he can be indicted under Section 9 (v) of the National Accountability Bureau Ordinance, 1999 and is liable to be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to fourteen years for this offence of corruption and corrupt practice. The Article 209 of the Constitution dealt with only professional misconduct and not any offences under the laws pertained to accountability for criminal acts.” The petitioner request the court to order enforcement of fundamental rights of equality before the law (Article 25) and direct the federation to initiate preliminary steps towards application of accountability laws to all members of the judiciary and military.