No water in state-run schools, no medicines available in public hospitals — yet, provincial governments spend taxpayers' money on massive advertisements, Chief Justice Saqib Nisar said on Wednesday.
He made these remarks while taking suo motu notice of media advertisements by the governments of Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Punjab.
The apex court constituted a three-member bench, led by Chief Justice Nisar, and fixed a hearing to be held on March 12. The court directed information secretaries of the three provincial governments to submit the record of awarding advertisements to print and electronic media within a week. The court also asked the authorities to provide details of how many advertisements were provided to each media house.
"Taxpayers' money is being used for self-promotion; big advertisements are awarded at the nation's expense," the chief justice said in his remarks, asking, "Doesn't this equate to pre-poll rigging?"
The chief justice said that the provincial governments run advertisements in the media with large logos and pictures to promote their projects, "yet 4,500 schools in Sindh are deprived of potable water".
"They [govts] will have to promote their work at their own expense," he added.
SC dismisses petitions
The apex court dismissed two separate petitions on Wednesday; one seeking contempt of court proceedings against ousted premier Nawaz Sharif and the other conducting accountability of higher judiciary through a parliamentary committee.
The first one was submitted against Sharif during his tenure as premier. The petitioner had argued that Sharif did not follow the court orders in connection with empowering local representatives. The chief justice scraped the petition and ruled that local government elections had been held so the plea stands infructuous.
The second one was a review petition as the SC registrar had already raised objections. The petitioner had attempted to move the court, seeking accountability of higher judiciary through a parliamentary committee. Barrister Zafarullah Khan of the Watan Party had also asked the court to include words "Sadiq" and "Ameen" in the code of conduct for judges.
In an in-chamber hearing of the appeal, the chief justice upheld the objections raised by the registrar office on the petition. Earlier, the office had rejected the petition, declaring it a plea with ill-intent to defame the judiciary.