Islamabad: The Supreme Court has ordered the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) to release funds for elections to the Punjab Assembly.
A three-member bench led by Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial heard the case in the Supreme Court’s conference room where Attorney General Mansoor Awan, Finance Secretary, and State Bank’s acting Governor were also present.
After examining the reports submitted by the officials, the bench ordered that funds should be issued directly to the Election Commission by the SBP. However, a full order would be issued after Friday prayers.
During the hearing, Attorney General Mansoor Awan presented the government’s version to the bench, stating that any amount from the Federal Consolidated Fund cannot be issued without parliament’s approval. Sources stated that the AG was subjected to intense questioning over the matter.
In its written reply, the government informed the court that it had fulfilled its responsibility by presenting a bill regarding election expenditures in the parliament. It also stated that the Supreme Court cannot directly order the SBP to issue funding.
The Chief Justice expressed displeasure at the government’s version and stated that the court’s order would have to be complied with in every case. Only relevant people were allowed to enter the chamber proceedings, and even the additional officials accompanying those summoned to the session were asked to stay outside.
In related news, the Supreme Court has summoned the Secretary of Finance and Governor of the State Bank of Pakistan to answer why funds for Punjab elections have not been issued.
Notices have also been issued to the Attorney General and Secretary of the Election Commission, and they have been asked to appear in court on April 14.
The notices come after the Election Commission of Pakistan submitted a sealed report in the court, which stated that the government had not provided the necessary funding or security required for the elections.
The court had ordered on April 4 that elections in Punjab should be held on May 14, and the governments at the center and Punjab should provide whatever help is needed to ensure the elections can be organized.