Supreme Court (SC) orders the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) to release funds for elections in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
A three-member bench of the Supreme Court heading by Justice Umar Ata Bandial on Friday expressed “annoyance” over the non-implementation of Top Court order in the Punjab election delay and directed the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) to “release funds directly” to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).
The bench conducted an in-chamber hearing of the case today and issued directives to the concerned authorities.
In todays hearing, Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) officials submitted the complete record to the court and the officials from the finance ministry and State Bank briefed the court on the economic situation and election funds.
State Bank of Pakistan Deputy Governor Sima Kamil, special secretary finance, additional secretary finance, ECP secretary and AGP Mansoor Usman Awan appeared before the Top Court’s three member bench.
Source said that the judges made it clear to Government that the court orders must be implemented, the Attorney General had to face the tough question on the stance of the government.
“The federal government implemented the April 4 order of the Supreme Court,” the AGP told the bench. He added that the government also tabled a bill in the National Assembly for the release of funds from the Federal Consolidated Funds.
“The government cannot ask the SBP to issue the funds after the rejection of the bill from the parliament,” AGP Awan said as per sources.
Remember that Supreme Court bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial directed the electoral body to hold elections in Punjab on 14th May, and the federal government to provide funds amounting to Rs21 billion to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) by 10th April .
However, the ECP submitted a report to the apex court on Tuesday stating that the federal government had not provided funds for the polls.
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) submitted a report to the Supreme Court as the federal government failed to release the funds to hold polls in Punjab.
The report was submitted to the SC’s Registrar’s Office in a sealed envelope by ECP, which will be sent to the chambers of CJP Bandial, Justice Ijaz ul Ahsan and Justice Munib Akhtar. The report mentioned lack of funds and security for conducting elections in Punjab. The ECP informed the top court that they didn’t receive Rs21 billion yet.
ECP announces Election Schedule
Earlier Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) issues the schedule for elections in Punjab that are to be held by 14th as per direction by the Supreme Court verdict.
According to the ECP notification, the Polling for the Punjab Assembly elections will be held on 14th May 2023. The Election Commission also cancels its earlier schedule regarding the holding of general elections in Punjab by 8th October.
As per the schedule, appeals can be filed against the decisions of Returning Officers regarding rejection or accepting nomination papers on April 10.
The ECP schedule comes hours after the consultative meeting of the Election Commission, under the chair of CEC Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja that was held in Islamabad today (Wednesday) to deliberate on the Supreme Court’s (SC)’s verdict regarding Punjab Assembly elections.
During the meeting, the ECP lawyers briefed the commission about the legal aspects and prospects of the implementation on the apex court’s order.
Sources said the participants in the meeting also decided to consult the caretaker Punjab government for administrative and security matters.
The ECP has also decided to consult with the finance ministry and federal Government for the release of funds required for Punjab polls.
Finance Ministry Report
Finance Minister Ishaq Dar introduced the money bill, saying that the government was laying the bill before the house in the light of the Supreme Court orders to release Rs21 billion to the ECP to hold a general election in the two provinces.
The finance minister said the federal cabinet, in its recent meeting, pondered over the SC orders and, in view of the house’s resolution, sought the will of Parliament to take a final decision regarding the allocation of funds for the Punjab and KP general election.
But The sources said the summary finalisaed by the finance ministry mentioned difficulties in the availability of large sums of money for elections separately۔
Sources having knowledge of the matter said that no money was kept in the budget for the elections and now it is difficult to take out Rs21 billion for the Punjab elections.