On Tuesday, both the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) submitted their respective reports to the Supreme Court (SC) regarding the release of Rs21 billion for elections in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
This move follows the directives issued by a three-member bench of the Supreme Court, consisting of Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Ijazul Ahsan, and Justice Munib Akhtar in a verdict on April 4.
The apex court had instructed the government to release Rs21bn to the ECP to conduct elections in the aforementioned provinces by April 10. The ECP was also directed to provide a report on whether or not the government complied with the order on April 11.
However, the government failed to comply with the order and referred the matter to Parliament, which defied the court’s orders and refused to issue the funds.
Last week, the electoral regulatory body submitted a confidential report to the Supreme Court, the contents of which are still unknown. However, according to an insider, the one-page document disclosed the government’s reluctance to allocate the required Rs21 billion for election purposes.
As a result, the Supreme court instructed the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) to release the funds from Account No. I, a crucial component of the Federal Consolidated Fund valued at Rs1.39 trillion. Furthermore, the Supreme court mandated the SBP to communicate this decision to the finance ministry by April 17.
Following the Supreme court’s orders, the central bank disbursed the funds on Monday and sought the finance ministry’s approval for their release. It is important to note that the government’s authorization is necessary for releasing the amount from the FCF, while the National Assembly’s approval is required for its release.
However, on the same day, the coalition government used the National Assembly to veto its own request for the provision of Rs21 billion as a supplementary grant to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for conducting elections in two provinces.
Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf put forward the proposal for a voice vote after Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar moved it on behalf of Finance Minister Ishaq Dar as part of the supplementary agenda.