Justice Isa questions constitutionality of PM Imran's grant of development funds to lawmakers

Published February 3, 2021
Supreme Court Justice Qazi Faez Isa warned that action would be taken if the release of development funds was not in accordance with the law. — Photo courtesy Supreme Court website/File
Supreme Court Justice Qazi Faez Isa warned that action would be taken if the release of development funds was not in accordance with the law. — Photo courtesy Supreme Court website/File

Supreme Court Justice Qazi Faez Isa on Wednesday took notice of the development funds, approved for members of the National Assembly and provincial assemblies by Prime Minister Imran Khan in a meeting last week, warning that legal proceedings would be initiated if the move was found to be in contravention of the law.

On January 27, the prime minister presided over a meeting of the parliamentary party of the ruling alliance led by the PTI at the Parliament House, during which he approved grants of Rs500 million for each member of the National Assembly and provincial assemblies. The grants were allotted under the sustainable development goals so that the lawmakers could carry out development schemes in their constituencies. The decision was taken after long-standing demands from the lawmakers for release of development funds.

Justice Isa, while hearing a separate case, quoted a newspaper report of the approval of development funds and and summoned the AG to apprise the court of the matter. "Is the release of the development funds by the prime minister in accordance with the Constitution, law and legal precedent?" he questioned.

Justice Isa asked AG Jawed to update the court on the issue based on the government's response. Justice Isa said if the release of funds was valid according to the Constitution and the law then "the matter will be closed". He added, however, that if it was in contravention of the law, then "action will be taken".

The AG responded he would update the court after receiving instructions from the government and further reassured that "whatever action is taken will be in the light of the law, Constitution and legal precedent."

Justice Isa said the matter would be referred to the Chief Justice for formation of a bench in case it warranted the initiation of legal proceedings.

The court issued notices to the AG and the advocates-general of all provinces for Wednesday, when the case will be taken up for hearing before a two-member bench, headed by Justice Isa.

Opposition criticises release of development funds

The Pakistan Peoples Party had criticised the federal government for releasing development funds to treasury members of the national and provincial assemblies before the Senate elections and urged the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to take notice of the issue.

PPP provincial spokesperson Senator Rubina Khalid in a statement on Thursday had described the approval of huge funds as an attempt to encourage political horse-trading.

“The government has adopted a discriminatory attitude by releasing funds only to its members of the national and provincial assemblies while the opposition lawmakers have been ignored,” she said, adding that it was the duty of the ECP to ensure implementation of the relevant laws.

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