Two-member bench seeks government stance in light of 2013 ruling that found allocation at sole discretion of P.M./C.M. ‘unconstitutional’
A two-member bench of the Supreme Court on Pakistan warned the federal government that it would take action if the granting of development funds for the ruling party’s lawmakers was not in line with a 2013 ruling that had declared distribution at the sole discretion of the prime minister/chief minister “illegal and unconstitutional.”
Justices Qazi Faez Isa and Maqbool Baqir took notice of the matter during the hearing of a case and summoned the attorney general to explain the government’s stance. “Can the prime minister approve development grants according to the law, Constitution and judicial decisions?” they asked, adding that they would await a response.
According to the 2013 ruling by then-Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, 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.” The Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) government had sought to bypass this restriction by requiring all beneficiaries of development funds to submit plans for how they would utilize them in their constituencies.
“If the matter pertaining to the development funds was handled according to law, then we will close the chapter,” Justice Isa said during Wednesday’s proceedings. “Action, however, will be taken if it is in violation of the Constitution.”
The attorney general responded by saying he would seek the government’s views. “Whatever decision is taken, it will be according to the law, Constitution and judicial decisions,” he said.
Last week, local media reported that Prime Minister Imran Khan had approved Rs. 500 million development funds for each lawmaker of the treasury benches. Approving the grants, he directed for their use on uplift projects and the success of the Ehsaas program.