ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court was requested on Friday to order the federal government to declare a financial emergency under Article 235 of the constitution in view of the financial crisis due to the continuous lockdown triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic in the country.
Filed by Maulvi Iqbal Haider, the petition requested the top court to order the federal government to formulate a national policy under “One Flag and One Nation”.
Such a policy, the petitioner contended, should be made after consultation with the representatives of provincial governments, opposition parties, economic experts, medical specialists, technocrats, professionals of different fields and traders with an aim to take a unanimous decision to defeat the Covid-19 disease.
The petition also requested the court to order the federal and provincial governments to save the lives of people and bear medical expenses for treatment of all patients suffering from the Covid-19 disease and admitted to government or private hospitals.
The petition urged the Supreme Court to order the federal and provincial governments to convert all educational institutions and marriage halls of the country into quarantine centres with provision of all necessary medical equipment and other necessary items such as sanitisers, masks, gloves for medical staff posted and patients kept there.
Petitioner calls for a national policy under ‘one flag, one nation’
The governments should also conduct fumigation of all cities through local governments’ staff by providing them relevant chemical sprays under the supervision of district deputy commissioners, the petition said.
The governments should also install walkthrough gates equipped with fumigation facilities outside all public offices, mosques and other religious places, the petition pleaded, adding that the governments should also not directly or indirectly pay financial assistance to any needy person except through banks after verification of their CNICs from Nadra under the supervision of the Auditor General of Pakistan.
Likewise, the governments should also submit a list and break-up of the needy people who had received the financial aid and the amount of funds reserved by the governments to face the crisis, the petition said.
The Supreme Court should also order the governments to give subsidy on food items to unemployed people and daily-wage workers to help them weather the calamity, the petition suggested.
The petition said that the priority at this point should be to save the lives of people, which required the federal and provincial governments to make a joint strategy to fight the pandemic as well as its socioeconomic impact.
Regrettably, the federal and provincial governments were engaged in bickering and blame-game which must be stopped, the petition said, adding that wasting of time and energy on petty politics and point-scoring would only put the lives of more people at risk.
The economic hardship, especially of the poor, was of as much concern as the spread of infections, and both sides would need to compromise on it, the petition added.
It said there was an alarming situation with regard to the financial crisis — a situation about which the Constitution provided a way out by imposing financial emergency under Article 235 of the Constitution.
Under the emergency, salaries and allowances of all people serving in government or semi-government offices or holding/serving posts in constitutional offices or employees of corporations/banks/public or private limited companies should be required to be deducted to maintain the economic life and financial stability of the country, the petition suggested.
Published in Dawn, April 18th, 2020