ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Tuesday sought comments from the Prime Minister’s Secretariat regarding a petition filed against the announcement of a reward of Rs10 million each for players on the Pakistan cricket team for winning the ICC Champions Trophy 2017.
Hearing the petition filed by advocate Tariq Asad, IHC Justice Aamer Farooq issued a notice to the principal secretary to the prime minister with directions to explain the law under which the premier could announce such awards.
The petitioner has adopted before the court that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has sanctioned Rs215 million in rewards for the cricket team for winning the Champions Trophy against India in England.
The petitioner has said that as per the notification of June 21, 15 players of the cricket team will receive Rs10 million, while each of the 13 members of the team management will be given Rs5 million when they already receive a monthly salary as regular employees.
He has maintained that the team deserves tribute for winning the trophy but the distribution of public funds in an extravagant manner is neither in public interest nor is it in accordance with the law.
He said players and squad members get sufficient match money, funds from other resources, salaries and benefits for playing first class cricket for various departments and have contracts with the Pakistan Cricket Board, making their normal income “over and above a 22-grade officer”.
“Such a huge amount may be utilised for public welfare,” he stated, adding that if the money has to be spent on sports or cricket, then the best way is to give these funds to the 16 regions at the grass roots level where players cannot even buy essential accessories for playing the game. He has requested the court to set aside the June 21 order and that the funds may be utilised to provide basic amenities to common people.
Though the petitioner also requested the court to stay the reward giving ceremony, the premier had already handed over the prize to the cricket team by the time the court order was issued.
Arguing before the court on Tuesday, the federal government’s counsel, deputy attorney general Raja Khalid Mehmood said Article 78 to 87 of the Constitution were related to the budget, grants and supplementary grants allowing the prime minister to announce cash awards among other grants. He added that the funds allocated for the Prime Minister’s Office could also be utilised in such situations.
Mr Mehmood said the General Financial Rules also allow the executive authority to use discretionary funds to an extent which can be reasonably justifiable.
After issuing notice to the Prime Minister’s Secretariat, the court adjourned the hearing till a date to be fixed by the registrar office.
Published in Dawn, July 5th, 2017