Three-member bench of Supreme Court starts hearing of defence ministry’s plea to hold countrywide elections on same date
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court of Pakistan has started hearing the plea of the defence ministry to cancel elections in Punjab on May 4 and announce same date for countrywide elections of all the assemblies when they complete their present tenure.
The three-member bench of the Supreme Court is hearing the plea of the Ministry of Defence.
Secretary Defence, attorney general of Pakistan, ECP representatives, and other stakeholders are present in the court-room.
On Tuesday, the Defence Ministry filed a plea in the Supreme Court a day after ISI, MI chiefs and the defence secretary briefed the chief justice of Pakistan and two other judges about the prevailing security situation in the country.
The heads of ISI, MI, and the secretary of defence requested the apex court to suspend its order of holding elections in Punjab on May 14.
The Ministry of Defence suggested nationwide elections simultaneously for all the assemblies.
For this purpose, the defence ministry filed a request in the Supreme Court and a three-member will start its hearing at 11:30 am today.
On Monday, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Military Intelligence (MI) chiefs gave a detailed briefing to the judges of the Supreme Court who ordered elections in Punjab.
The heads of ISI and MI gave a briefing to the chief justice and other judges of the bench in the chamber of the CJP Umar Ata Bandial for three consecutive hours.
Last week, the apex court ordered the State Bank of Pakistan to release Rs 21 billion for elections in Punjab.
Resultantly, the acting governor of the State Bank of Pakistan Sima Kamil informed the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Finance on Monday that the SBP has allocated Rs21 billion for the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to hold elections in Punjab. She, however, stated that the central bank does not have the authority to release funds directly.
The Standing Committee of the National Assembly on Finance held a crucial meeting on Monday to discuss the SC’s order to the SBP to release Rs 21 billion for the Punjab elections. PML-N MNA Qaiser Ahmed Sheikh chaired the meeting on Monday.
The matter was referred to the federal cabinet for the approval of a Rs 21 billion release, but the cabinet sent it to the National Assembly to get approval. The National Assembly, however, turned down the government’s request to release Rs 21 billion for elections in Punjab.
Earlier, Senator Azam Tarar, Federal Law Minister, told the NA’s panel that the Finance Ministry had already made it clear that funds are not available for elections in the ongoing fiscal year.
He said that spending money twice on the same elections was not a good decision.
It was decided in the meeting that a Money Bill will be presented in the National Assembly to authorize the release of the funds. If the Parliament approved the Money Bill, the government would release the funds for elections, he added.
Meanwhile, the State Bank of Pakistan has allocated Rs 21 billion for elections in Punjab as per the order of the Supreme Court of Pakistan.
At present, about Rs 1.3 trillion were available in the federal government’s
account No. 1. The central bank has allocated Rs 21 billion from this account.
The State Bank of Pakistan will inform the Finance Ministry on Monday (April 17)
about the allocation of money for elections in Punjab.
On Friday, the apex court ordered the central bank to provide Rs21 billion
to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for elections in Punjab. The
Supreme Court took the decision after the federal government refused to release funds for elections.
A three-member SC bench comprised of Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Ijaz Ul Ahsan, and Justice Munib Akhtar issued the orders.