Islamabad April 18 2023: The National Assembly on Monday disapproved a supplementary demand for a grant for elections in Punjab, with the observation that only the Lower House of Parliament had the authority to give any amount from the Federal Consolidated Fund.
Minister for Law and Justice Azam Nazeer Tarar moved the supplementary demand of Rs 21 billion in the House to meet the expenditures for elections in Punjab.
He said the Federal Cabinet had referred the matter to the National Assembly which had the authority to approve or disapprove additional expenses under Articles 82 (2) and 84 of the Constitution.
He said the amounts in the Federal Consolidated Fund except charged expenditure could be only given after approval of the august House as no other institution had any authority in that regard.
He said the Supreme Court in its order directed to get ex-post facto approval of it but the Standing Committee on Finance had directed the Finance Division to take up the issue in Federal Cabinet and deliberate it in the form of a demand or bill.
He said the appropriate forum was the National Assembly, “which accords approval of expenses from the Federal Consolidated Fund” and that was why the cabinet had referred the matter to the House.
It may be mentioned that the NA’s Standing Committee on Finance earlier decided to forward the matter of releasing Rs 21 billion funds for Punjab elections to the National Assembly as a three-member bench in the case of delay in the Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa elections had ordered the State Bank of Pakistan on April 14, 2023, to directly issue Rs 21 billion for the elections and submit its report on April 18.
The committee, after a briefing, decided to take the matter to the Parliament after approval from the Federal Cabinet.
The law minister said the Supreme Court had ordered provision of funds for the Punjab elections, but no funds in that regard were kept in the Federal Consolidated Fund.
For the release of funds as a supplementary grant, the National Assembly’s nod was necessary, he said and moved the supplementary demand 64-A which was rejected by the House.
Highlighting the background of the matter, the minister said the National Assembly adopted separate resolutions for holding general elections throughout the country simultaneously.
The Supreme Court, he said, took suo motu notice on the matter and constituted a nine-member bench to hear the case.
He said Article 218 read along with Article 224, sections 57, 58 and 59 of the Elections Act and the verdict of the Supreme Court itself in the Workers Party case allowed to hold the elections simultaneously in the country.
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), he said, had postponed the elections in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa keeping in view the security, political and economic challenges faced by Pakistan at the current juncture.
Tarar said Article 224 asked for the general elections at the same time across the country, while as per Article 254 polls could be postponed due to the extraordinary situation as the ECP had the mandate to adjust the schedule of the elections keeping in view ground realities.
He regretted that the suo motu proceedings were initiated by the nine-member SC bench, which had been relegated to three members.
Firstly it had to be interpreted that if the judgment dated March 1, was issued with the majority of 4-3 member bench, he added.