A petition challenging the ‘grant of interest-free loans’ was filed in the Lahore High Court (LHC) against the earlier approval of the monetary facility extended to eleven judges of the high court.
The petition requested the court to declare the act ‘unlawful’ as it violates the equity clause and code of conduct of the judges.
“The act of respondents chief secretary, secretary S&GAD, secretary finance civil secretariat and judges amounts to violation of Article 2-A and 25 of the Constitution as it amounts to discrimination and inequality.”
“The public at large and even the poor are being charged 22 percent interest on loans while a judge who is withdrawing a whopping Rs900,000 salary is getting interest free loan and that is something unethical, immoral and unjustified” the petitioner Muhshkoor Hussain contended in his petition.
The LHC judges had desired to avail the facility of interest-free loans equal to 36 basic pays for the purchase/construction of houses. Each judge has a basic pay to the tune of Rs912,862. The approval for the grant of the loan has been given by the cabinet standing committee for finance, and two of the judges have already received the interest-free loan amounting to Rs32.86m each, he added.
The petitioner in his petition underlined that the interest-free loan has been granted to Justice Ahmad Nadeem Arshad, Justice Safdar Saleem Shahid, Justice Rasaal Hasan Syed, Justice Shakil Ahmad, Justice Muhammad Tariq Nadeem, Justice Muhammad Amjad Rafique, Justice Abid Hussain Chattha, Justice Anwar Hussain, Justice Ali Zia Bajwa, Justice Muhammad Raza Qureshi and Justice Raheel Kamran.
The loan amount is being released in one installment and will be recovered by deducting one-fourth (25 per cent) of basic pay on a monthly basis. Eventually, the interest-free loan will be recovered in 12 years, while some of the judges will retire in a year to six, nine, and 11 years.
There is no precedent where an interest-free loan is given that will be payable in installments from their pension either to the general public or to public functionaries. It is pertinent to mention here that Pakistan central bank kept interest rate at 22 percent.
“The act of Respondents and Judges amounts to violation of article 2-A and 25 of the constitution as it amounts to discrimination and inequality. The public at large and even the poor are being charged 22 percent interest on loans while a judge who is withdrawing a whopping 9 lac salary is getting interest free loan and that is something unethical, immoral and unjustified.”
The petitioner further requested the court that if the loan is already granted they be directed to charge interest as it is being charged from the public at large. He also prayed the court that they be directed to not grant any interest-free loan to judges if any application is made.