ISLAMABAD - The upper house of the Parliament Tuesday sought briefing from the attorney general for Pakistan on whether the Supreme Court was answerable to the Parliament or not and whether the rules were amended to give 6,000CC bulletproof Mercedes to former chief justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry beyond his entitlement.

The Senate asked the government to explain whether the rules were amended to give 6,000CC bulletproof Mercedes to former chief justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry beyond his entitlement in the light of implementation of the Islamabad High Court order or just a court order was implemented.

Senate Chairman Nayyer Bokhari asked Attorney General Salman Aslm Butt to brief the house on this issue while senior lawyers and members of the house, including Leader of Opposition Aitzaz Ahsan, Babar Awan and Rafique Rajwana, will assist the house after which the Senate chairman will give his ruling on the issue.

“We will like to hear the attorney general Wednesday (today) because this is an important issue as the ministry says the SC registrar was not responding to the queries of the Parliament,” Senate Chairman Nayyer Bokhari said. Earlier, Babar Awan questioned how an institution which was getting money from the national kitty was not ready to accept the supremacy of the Parliament.

The remarks came from the chair after Information Minister Pervaiz Rasheed, while replying to a question about the pension, allowances and other fringe benefits available to former chief justices of the apex court, told the chair that six letters had been written to the Supreme Court registrar about it, but the government got no answer from him. He said. “Whatever information we had about this has been presented before the house and what decision the Senate takes will be supported by us,” he said. Zahid Khan questioned whether the Parliament was supreme or the SC.

The information minister, in his written reply, told the house that former CJP Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry was availing himself of the facility of 6000CC bulletproof Mercedes Benz beyond his entitlement. “The Law and Justice Division is bearing the expenses of petrol and maintenance of this vehicle in the light of the Islamabad High Court judgment given on January 15, 2014. An intra-court appeal (ICA) has been filed against the decision, but no date has so far been fixed for hearing,” his reply said.

The Senate was informed that 4,689 litres petrol had been issued to the car of the former CJP since January 30, 2014, and a repair estimate amounting to Rs 3.375 million had been sent to the Law Division.

The chair questioned whether the government had amended the rules to give this facility to the former CJP or it had just implemented the court order. Senator Kazim Khan said whether the decision was for a single person. The chair said, “We will have to see Article 19-A and Article 205. I will give the ruling after hearing the attorney general and other legal minds of the house.” Saeed Ghani questioned why the words have been omitted from the reply that the SC was not giving answer. The question came before the house for the second time during this session.

The opposition benches and JUI-F as well as PkMAP from the treasury sides staged a walkout from the house to protest the diversion of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor’s original route. Haji Adeel was the first who mentioned a news item, quoting the Chinese diplomatic sources that China wanted to build the economic corridor as per the changed route. “China could not be given the authority to build the corridor on its own,” he said, adding China was a friend of Pakistan, but it was ignoring the people of Mianwali in Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan. He said this was clear from the news that the corridor was being built as per the new route. The Senate deputy chairman remarked there would be some agreement as Chine could not build the corridor on its own. Ilyas Bilour protested and said Punjab had even identified the cities where industrial zones would be built alongside the corridor. Abdur Rauf of PkMAP said the Punjab government had declared salt range area as the industrial zone and a power plant was being established there. Haji Adeel said the government was misguiding the opposition benches.