ISLAMABAD -  The Supreme Court On Friday termed a report submitted by the government regarding holding of a census in the country an “eye-wash”, directing a government representative to come up with a statement clearly mentioning the final date for the head count.

As the three-member Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali resumed hearing in a suo moto case regarding a delay in conducting the census, the chief justice said that if the government was not serious in implementing courts’ directives, then it should close them.

The Supreme Court observed that both the incumbent and previous governments have failed to hold the census in the country over the last 18 years.

The chief justice remarked that they were hearing those seventy percent cases, whose orders were issued in 2013, as the government has not yet implemented them.

“If we are unable to provide justice, then the government should also close this institution by saying that there is no need of it,” the chief justice remarked.

At the start of the hearing, Attorney General (AGP) Ashtar Ausaf, told the court that they have sent a summary to the Council of Common Interests, suggesting decreasing the strength of security personnel to 48,000.

He added that the census could be held in March next year subject to the availability of army personnel.

Justice Ameer Hani Muslim took strong exception to the word “subject to”, asking the AGP “why the government has again put the condition of availability of armed forces”.

The chief justice said that the government should have kept the report to the point instead of filing it in a vague term. “We will not accept any condition for holding the census,” the chief justice said, adding both the previous and incumbent government have failed to hold the census in.

The AGP said that he had tried his best and contacted all the relevant quarters before submitting the report. The chief justice, however, observed that the whole country was running on assumptions, adding “if the bureau of statistics was not functioning well then it should be closed down”.

“We don’t know the exact number of the population, the percentage of male, female, young and old people as well,” he observed.

Justice Hani Muslim told the AGP that, “If you cannot hold census without the support of the army then you must make an amendment to the constitution as there was no mention in the constitution that census would be only held with the support of the army”.

The attorney general said that he would advise the authorities concerned to review the said report. The chief justice said that they had taken the suo moti notice of the instant matter in June, however, even after five months, the government did nothing.

“Sitting over here, if we cannot deliver justice, there is no use of this institution”, the chief justice remarked.

The case is adjourned till December 1.