The expression “sacred cow” denotes something considered, perhaps unreasonably, to be immune from criticism. However, English dictionaries still lack an expression to describe a situation in which a sacred cow insists that its immunity is perfectly reasonable. Perhaps it is time for Oxford and Webster to get with the times, as the list of sacred cows in Pakistan is getting quite lengthy.
After military and religious authorities, who seek immunity from criticism on obvious pretexts, the judiciary in Pakistan is now also getting into the act. In response to a Parliament Public Accounts Committee (PAC) letter which requested the Supreme Court registrar to forward court audit report details, the registrar has advised that as per constitution Article 68, “No discussion shall take place in parliament with respect to the conduct of any judge of the Supreme Court or of a High Court in the discharge of his duties.” Therefore, the audit report cannot be forwarded to PAC. Amazing, isn’t it? What does a judge’s conduct during the discharge of his (or her) duty have to do with the audit report?
By referring to clauses of the constitution, the court registrar tried to make his response sound and reasonable. But doesn’t his logic and stand look hollow and unreasonable? How can an institution which receives its budget from the national exchequer claim that its internal audit report, if one is available, cannot be looked at. Such a claim leads to only one conclusion, that there is something that they do not wish the public to see. Now they claim not only to be sacred cows, but also threaten anyone who dares to challenge them with a charge of contempt. A few days ago, the Capital Development Authority (CDA) Director General (DG) was jailed for a day for staring at a judge.
There are interesting days ahead.
Masood Khan, Jubail