close
Advertisement
Can't connect right now! retry

add The News to homescreen

tap to bring up your browser menu and select 'Add to homescreen' to pin the The News web app

Got it!

add The News to homescreen

tap to bring up your browser menu and select 'Add to homescreen' to pin the The News web app

Got it!
January 28, 2021

BHC order challenged in SC: Supreme Court allows govt to continue ongoing schemes

National

January 28, 2021

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Wednesday admitted for regular hearing the petition filed by the Government of Balochistan against the order of the Balochistan High Court declaring the allocation of funds in the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) 2020-21 as illegal. The bench also allowed the provincial government to continue with the ongoing schemes.

A three-member bench of the apex court, headed by Justice Umar Ata Bandial and comprising Justice Sajjad Ali Shah and Justice Muneeb Akhtar, granted leave to appeal to the Government of Balochistan against the High Court of Balochistan order. A member of the provincial assembly had challenged the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) for 2020-21 in the Balochistan High Court. In September last, a division bench of the Balochistan High Court comprising Chief Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail and Justice Abdul Hameed Baloch had declared the allocation of funds for construction of Rest Houses and sports complexes in the province from the PSDP as illegal. The court banned the special development programme initiated by the Balochistan government and also declared allocation of funds for bulldozer hours, construction of Rest Houses and sports complexes illegal. The court observed that the provincial government had proposed various development projects in the PSDP without preparing the PC-1 and the additional chief secretary of planning and development deliberately included them in the development budget, which was illegal and in violation of rules.

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court allowed the provincial government to continue with the ongoing schemes launched during fiscals 2019-20 and 2020-21. However, the court directed Advocate General Balochistan to submit a comprehensive report pertaining to PC-1 of the developmental projects of the province. The court also directed Malik Sikandar Khan, Leader of the Opposition in the Balochistan Assembly, to submit in writing his allegations and objections. During the hearing, Chief Minister Balochistan Jam Kamal Khan was also present in the courtroom.

Arguing before the court, Advocate General Balochistan submitted that complying with section 16(2) of the Balochistan Financial Management Act will lead to stopping the ongoing projects and schemes. He further submitted that as per the said provision, at the time of approving the schemes, some 33 percent cost of the project had to be allocated in the budget. Justice Muneeb Akhtar, a member of the bench, asked the AG as to why the provincial government did not take into account this while approving the budget. The AG responded that the stance of the provincial government was that the Act will be enforced from the next budget. Justice Umar Ata Bandial observed that the opposition had alleged that neither proper funds were allocated for the development projects nor they were utilized as well. "You have to restore the confidence of the opposition and we can ask you to follow the law,” Justice Bandial told the Advocate General Balochistan. At the same time, Justice Bandial, while addressing Malik Sikandar Khan, leader of the opposition, remarked “If your allegations proved to be correct, we will ask the provincial government, but if you are proven wrong we will say something against you as well.” Advocate General Balochistan Arbab Muhammad Tahir submitted that the provincial government has spent about 56 percent budget on the development projects, schemes adding that PC-1 of all the projects had been made. He further told the court that the provincial government had completed organizing national games but it was affected due to the COVID-19. Justice Bandial noted that it had been alleged that the funds allocated for development projects were not utilized besides alleging that they went into the pockets of someone. The judge observed that due to volatile situation of the province, most of the funds go wasted. You have to restore the confidence of people of the province,” Justice Bandial told the Advocate General Balochistan.

Chief Minister Balochistan Jam Kamal Khan while appearing before the court submitted that they have spent about 30 billion in Quetta alone. It is totally wrong that most of the projects were initiated without issuing tenders, the chief minister said adding that proper advertisements were published in the newspapers for them. There is not a single scheme in our budget which had no concept paper and PC-2 relates to concept paper, the CM told the court. "Our job is to resolve the issues and problems in accordance with law,” Justice Umar Ata Bandial observed. "We are very happy that you appeared in-person with the commitment and demonstrated the resolve to adhere to rule of law,” Justice Bandial told Chief Minister Balochistan. Later, the court adjourned the case.