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ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) directed the secretary Ministry of Finance (MoF) to file a categorical, clear, and an unambiguous’ report signed by Prime Minister Imran Khan that no development funds have been allocated nor will such funds be allocated to parliamentarians in violation of the Constitution and the apex court’s judgment.

A five-member bench, headed by Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed, and comprising Justice Mushir Alam, Justice Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Qazi Faez Isa, and Justice Ijazul Ahsan on Wednesday heard a suo motu regarding distribution of development funds to the MNAs/MPAs by the prime minister.

The bench passed the same direction for the Punjab government as well.

The court noted that the Punjab government’s statement about the distribution of funds is “vague” and does not meet the requirement of the apex court’s 03-02-21 order.

The advocate general Punjab was therefore ordered to file a statement in accordance with apex court’s 3rd February order.

The advocate general of Sindh, the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, and Balochistan were also ordered to file categorical statements that no development funds were given to any minister, MPA or notable, and that such funds would be disbursed as per the constitutional provisions.

Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, Azam Khan, in response to the apex court’s order, filed a report.

However, Justice Qazi Faez Isa declared the report “unsatisfactory”, inquiring from the Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) Khalid Jawed Khan, who had filed the report, whether he had or the secretary to the premier drafted “this piece”.

Justice Isa said the prime minister has not contradicted the news and the editorial published in an English-language newspaper.

“Every day we witness bombardment on media, but in the instant matter the gentleman [the PM] has not made any statement till date,” he added.

Justice Isa said before the Senate election, distribution of funds to the legislators is a violation of the constitution and comes under corrupt practice.

Justice Isa noted nowhere was there denial about distribution of funds to lawmakers in the report.

“We want statement directly from the prime minister that no money will be allocated to the parliamentarians for development schemes, except under the mode described in the constitution and SC judgment,” the judge said.

According to a media report, the prime minister on January 28 had announced Rs500m for each MNA and MPA, so that they can initiate development schemes in their respective constituencies.

The attorney general said no amount will be allocated except in the manner prescribed in the constitution and the Supreme Court judgment.

A two-member bench comprising Justice Qazi Faez Isa and Justice Maqbool Baqir on February 3rd had issued notices to the Cabinet Secretary/Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, Secretary Ministry of Finance, and all the provincial governments through their respective chief secretaries and secretaries finance departments.

The apex court in its judgment on “Action against Distribution of Development Funds by Ex-Prime Minister” held; “The National Assembly, while giving assent to a grant which is to be utilized by the Executive at its discretion, has to follow the procedure provided in Articles 80 to 84 of the Constitution as well as the Rules of Procedure, 2007. However, such discretionary grant can not be spent at the absolute discretion of the Executive and the discretion has to be exercised in a structured manner.

“The Constitution does not permit the use/allocation of funds to MNAs/MPAs/notables at the sole discretion of the Prime Minister or the Chief Minister. If there is any practice of allocation of funds to the MNAs/MPAs/Notables at the sole discretion of the Prime Minister/Chief Minister, the same is illegal and unconstitutional. The government is bound to establish procedure/criteria for governing allocation of such funds for this purpose.”

The case was adjourned until today (Thursday).

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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