PESHAWAR: A Peshawar High Court bench on Wednesday sought replies from the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chief minister and over a dozen administrative secretaries about a contempt petition filed by 10 opposition MPAs claiming that despite a court order, the government hasn’t formulated rules for the allocation of development schemes for financial year 2019-20 and onward.
Justice Lal Jan Khattak and Justice Abdul Shakoor issued the order after preliminary hearing into the petition filed by MPAs Enayatullah Khan of the Jamaat-i-Islami, Khushdil Khan of the Awami National party and eight others, who requested the court to initiate contempt proceedings against the respondents, including Chief Minister Mahmood Khan, his principal secretary Shahab Ali Shah, and several administrative secretaries for violating the court orders.The next date of hearing will be fixed later.
A bench of the high court headed by Chief Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth had on Sept 11 disposed of a petition jointly filed by 38 MPAs of opposition parties and had ordered the government to formulate rules and regulations within seven days for allocation of development schemes and also not to release development funds until then.
The bench had ruled: “In future, especially for the financial year 2019-20, quarter concerned shall formulate the rules/regulations within seven days from the receipt of this judgment for allocations of schemes, umbrella schemes etc. so as to protect the rights of all individuals and preferably representatives equally. Meanwhile all developmental funds (including foreign developmental funds) in this respect shall not be distributed or released.”
Those MPAs led by leader of the opposition Akram Khan Durrani had challenged the unjust distribution of development funds by the chief minister in the fiscal budget 2018-19, especially the umbrella schemes reflected as block allocation in the budget.
Opposition MPAs claim court order violated as ADP rules not framed
Amir Javed, lawyer for the petitioners, said despite clear directives of the high court, the respondents, including the chief minister, had so far not prepared those rules and regulations. He added that funds were also released to the treasury MPAs in violation of the court’s order.
The lawyer said ADPs were prepared without taking into consideration vital factors such as poverty, backwardness of particular areas including population and lagging behind in infrastructure development of other districts.
He said preferential treatment was given by the chief minister to his native Swat district and the high court had issued that order for the same reason.
An additional advocate general said the government had formulated the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Annual Development Plan (ADP) Policy 2019-23 in accordance with the court order.
He said under that policy, no public representative, including the chief minister and treasury and opposition MPAs could claim any individual right or discretion over ADP.
Amir Javed said the court had issued order for formulation of rules/ regulations, whereas the government had come up with a policy.
During hearing, Justice Lal Jan Khattak observed that the prime responsibility of MPAs was legislation but instead of doing that, they sought funds for development schemes.
He added that it was the responsibility of the relevant administrative bodies to execute development schemes.
In the earlier judgment the court had observed that since the budget 2018-19 had been authenticated, therefore the matter was a close chapter by now, however, it was hold that the allocation of funds of ADP, umbrella schemes, etc. were made on basis of discrimination, therefore, the government was warned to be careful in future.
The bench had ruled: “Since the issue in hand is an old and consistent one, therefore, the Government is advised, for future purposes, for spending developmental funds for the year 2019-20, first of all rules and regulations, etc. for allocation of developmental schemes/ projects, etc. are to be formulated in order to bring about the uniformity, minimising discriminatory treatments to any other member of the assembly, what to say of opposition benches, we give seven days’ time to formulate such policies, rules/ regulations and then to allocate the budget, by protecting rights of individuals and MPAs.”
The bench had cited several examples of allocation of funds by the chief minister in illegal and irregular manner without approval from the provincial cabinet.
Published in Dawn, December 5th, 2019