Non-provision of funds: SC summons finance secy, AGP

ISLAMABAD (Agencies): The Supreme Court (SC) on Wednesday issued notices to the finance secretary, State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) Governor Jameel Ahmad, Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) Mansoor Awan and the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) over the government’s failure to disburse Rs21 billion in funds for polls in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
In a notice issued by the SC registrar today, the apex court noted that the report submitted by the ECP yesterday stated “no funds have at all been released and provided to it as required by the order of the court”. “The failure of the federal government to comply with the order of the court as aforesaid is prima facie disobedience,” it observed. “The consequences that can flow from such prima facie defiance of the court are well settled and known.
“Every person who embarks upon, encourages or instigates disobedience or defiance of the court can be held liable and accountable,” the notice pointed out. It highlighted that the “disobedience” by the federal government would put the conduct of timely elections as mandated by the Constitution in “jeopardy”.
“The question of the provision of funds for such a vital constitutional purpose is something that requires immediate attention which takes priority over proceeding against those who may have committed contempt of the court,” the SC said. Subsequently, the court issued a notice to the SBP governor and the next senior most official of the bank and directed them to appear before the chamber of the judges on Friday, April 14, at 11am. It directed them to bring the record and details of money owned by the federal government lying with or under the control, custody or management of the central bank.
The court also issued notices to the AGP, the finance secretary and the “next most senior official” in the Finance Ministry for an in-person appearance the same day. “The said officials shall bring with them all the relevant record and shall place before the court a detailed report as to why the order of the court made in para 5 of Const. P. 5/2023 has not been complied with, as stated by the commission,” it said. Issuing similar notices to the ECP secretary and director general law, the court directed them to prepare and submit the full record pertaining to the general elections to the Punjab and KP assemblies.
Though the contents of the report submitted by the ECP in court yesterday are not known, a source privy to the information told media that the one-page report informed the apex court about the government’s reluctance to issue the Rs21 billion needed for the purpose.