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ISLAMABAD: The Federal Cabinet has approved an amount of Rs 400 million for establishment of additional 30 Accountability Courts across the country in light of Supreme Court’s directions, official sources told Business Recorder. According to the Ministry of Law and Justice, the Supreme Court of Pakistan passed an order on July 8, 2020 and July 23, 2020 directing the Ministry to establish additional 120 Accountability Courts within one month with the approval of the Cabinet and appoint judicial officers in these courts and create the necessary infrastructure for this purpose. The apex court, in its order of October 21, 2020, sought a report within a period of one month on this issue.

The Prime Minister was briefed on October 26, 2020 by Law and Justice Division about this development and a comprehensive plan for establishment of additional 120 Accountability Courts across the country was shared with him.

The Prime Minister agreed, in principle, with the proposal with the recommendation to establish 30 Accountability Courts in the first phase and the remaining would be established in a phased manner taking into account the workload in each court and financial position/constraints.

The Austerity Committee of the Finance Division had allowed for creation of 300 posts for additional 30 Accountability Courts to be established.

It was stated that as per Prime Minister Office’s directive of October 27, 2020 the Law and Justice Division had to determine possible savings in its demand and work out financial requirements. Subsequently, the Law and Justice Division had to move a case for technical/ regular supplementary grant for consideration/ approval of the ECC of the Cabinet.

Ministry of Law and Justice further noted that as no savings were available with Law and Justice Division to meet the expenditure involved for establishment of 30 additional Accountability Courts, hence, Finance Division was requested by Law and Justice Division on November 24, December 3, and December 16, 2020 and January 01, 2021 after rationalizing of the estimates from Rs 526.38 to Rs400.020 million to give their concurrence for availability of funds amounting to Rs 400.020 million. Budget estimate with respect to appointments of judges have been worked out for six months and appointments of staff for five months with effect from February 01, 2021 and with respect to other expenditures for six months for current fiscal year i.e. January 1, 2021 to June 30, 2021. In response Finance Division had conveyed their concurrence through their letter of January 4, 2021.

Ministry of Law and Justice requested the ECC in compliance with the Supreme Court’s order and directions of the Prime Minister’s Office for approval of technical supplementary grant amounting to Rs 400.020 million from within the budget of Finance Division to Law and Justice Division’s demand number 107 - other expenditure during the current fiscal year 2020-2021 for establishing an additional 30 Accountability Courts.

The sources said the Federal Cabinet in its meeting held on January 12, 2021 also ratified the decision of the ECC, adding that as the minutes of the Cabinet are issued, probably by next week, the Finance Ministry will process the release of an Rs 400.020 million as technical supplementary grant for establishment of additional 30 Accountability Courts.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021