Supreme Court’s highly commendable step

Published: 04:07 PM, 4 Feb, 2021
Supreme Court’s highly commendable step
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The Supreme Court has done a commendable job by taking notice of the directive issued recently by Prime Minister Imran Khan for the release of Rs500 million to each lawmaker on account of development funds ahead of elections for the 50 percent seats of Upper House of Parliament that are due to fall vacant by the middle of March.

A two-member bench of the apex court, comprising Justice Qazi Faez Isa and Justice Maqbool Baqar, issued notices to Attorney General for Pakistan Khalid Jawed Khan and advocates general for submission of the federal and provincial governments’ points of view. 

During the course of hearing, the court invited the attention of the Attorney General to paragraph 52 of the judgment, announced by the Supreme Court on December 5, 2013, regarding a premier's discretion to allocate funds.

"If the funds were not released in accordance with the law, then action will be taken in this regard,” Justice Isa remarked.

It may be pointed out that various governments have been using development funds to please their own legislators and lure the opposition lawmakers to change their loyalties. Weak governments often use this methodology for their survival as well as longevity.   

The legislators are supposed to use the development funds to set up important projects in their respective constituencies, especially such projects that add to popular support of the sitting government. 

But everyone knows that most of such funds are pocketed by the elements involved in the execution of projects. Shares are fixed for engineers and other functionaries - as a result of which not more than 50 percent funds allocated for a project are used on ground. The remaining half of the amount goes to personal pockets of the individuals. 

It can be said without the fear of contradiction that this condemnable system is responsible for the backwardness of the country. 

On papers it appears that ‘revolutionary steps’ are being taken for the uplift of the state.

But in practice money allocated for various projects is going into private pockets.

Though it appears far-fetched, money made through such corrupt practices is deposited in foreign banks. Had this not been the case, no leader or bureaucrat should have accounts abroad. Also, this is the main reason that important people are finding it difficult to justify their incomes that are beyond their known sources of income.

The government would have to spend billions on the so-called development projects to be launched through legislators in the light of the prime minister’s announcement. 

In case the apex court found the prime minister’s impugned order in conflict with the Constitution, huge amounts of the resource-starved state would be saved. The credit for doing this wonderful job would go to the judiciary. 

The judiciary’s role in keeping a system on track is pivotal. There are no two opinions about it.   

It is said that during the Second World War, when the German air force was wreaking havoc on London with its incessant bombing attacks, the then British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill took cognizance of the heavy casualties and economic devastation. He asked, “Are the courts functioning?” When told that the judges were dispensing justice as normal, Churchill replied, “Thank God. If the courts are working, nothing can go wrong.”

The case of funds taken up by the Supreme Court is very important. It may lead to unpredictable consequences for the government. 

Already, the alliance of opposition parties (PDM) is out to dislodge the PTI government. It is considering various strategies to achieve the target. 

The apex court’s notice has added to the challenges facing the government.

Ashraf Mumtaz

The writer is the Deputy Editor of 24 Digital.