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Re-appropriation of funds from slow moving project to fast moving project by Government of Balochistan: Supreme Court of Pakistan hears constitution petition

Islamabad, April 11, 2013 (PPI-OT): A three member bench headed by Hon’ble Mr. Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Chief Justice of Pakistan and comprising two other members Hon’ble Mr. Justice Gulzar Ahmed and Hon’ble Mr. Justice Sh. Azmat Saeed heard Const. P. No. 115 of 2012 and CMA No. 1824 of 2013 (Re-appropriation of funds from slow moving project to fast moving project by the Government of Balochistan).

During the hearing of the case the Hon’ble Bench held that inter alia, the reasons for not approaching the general masses by creating opportunities for them so they may have improved their lives both as far as law and order is concerned and to earn their livelihood, being one of their Fundamental Right in terms of Article 9 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973, prima facie, the elected representatives/legislators have been involved to perform or act as the Executives by getting executed or identifying development schemes under the heading of Constituency Development Programmes where instead of allowing the Executives, the legislators are asked to identify the schemes to the extent of the budgetary amount, which is allocated for each representative like in the Balochistan Rs.25 crore per MPA for a financial year has been allotted. With the result that said persons identify the schemes within their Constituencies for their own benefit ignoring the people of the Province as whole as a result whereof the development has not taken place, as it should have.

However, we have asked the learned counsel for the petitioners to assist us on this point before finally disposing of the matter. We may pointed out here that such system of Constituency Development Programmes had commenced in Pakistan from the year of 1985 when there were Assemblies, elected on a non party basis and, this scheme/programme is going on from then onward. Otherwise, it is well developed consensus all over the world that as far as such development programmes are concerned they have been undertaken by the Executive and as far as the Legislature is concerned, it should have no say except to pass the budget and identify the areas which required the development.

With regard to the above aspect of the matter, the Court would also like to hear the learned Attorney General for Pakistan and directed issuance of notice to him.

The Court heard the case and passed the following order:-

The above-mentioned Civil Misc. Application has been filed with the following prayer:

“Keeping in view the above mentioned scenario, the Hon’ble Supreme Court of Pakistan is requested to kindly allow the Government of Balochistan for re-appropriation of funds from slow moving project to fast moving project. The list of schemes are annexed which need immediate additional funding in order to accelerate pace of these projects as well as reduce to through forward for the next financial year. This can only be done by re-appropriating the funds from overall PSDP savings available within different sectors reflection in the PSDP 2012-2013.”

2. Notice of the same has been given to the petitioners, who opposed the grant of the relief on various grounds, including that despite receiving the inspection reports of the Committee, constituted by the Court, which had identified the illegalities and irregularities, being committed in the 25% of the development schemes they had succeeded to examine the Government of Balochistan, had not taken action against a single person nor any further steps had been taken in respect of leftover 75% schemes.

3. Learned counsel stated that the respondents are just feeling content on the basis of whatever orders are passed or actions are taken by this Court and are not coming forward to identify the illegalities and irregularities nor any action, civil or criminal has been taken against anybody, as a result whereof a huge amount of public money has been misappropriated and there is no check of any nature upon the persons responsible for misappropriating the same.

4. Learned counsel appearing for the Government of Balochistan stated that in respect of at least one scheme the matter has already been referred to NAB for initiating proceedings but so far no final report has been submitted and in the meanwhile, the payment to the executing agencies, involved in the development programmes have not been made, as a result whereof another round of litigation has commenced between the Governments and such like agencies/contractors.

However, he stated that according to the settled principle of making expenditure of the budgetary allocation in the 4th quarter of the financial year, the Government has to re-appropriate the budgetary allocations from one Head to another Head, particularly, for ensuring that the fast-track development schemes are completed so that the benefit of the same could be extended to the public/citizens.

5. We have some reservations about the manner in which the funds allocated are being spent for the last 4/5 years received through NFC Award and from other resources as despite having considerable available funds, the Citizens of the Province of Balochistan are not being benefited. In fact, it is their Fundamental Right that their lives should be secured after spending the money belonging to them.

Therefore, we had called for a report, which has been submitted today i.e. 11th April, 2013, during the hearing. A perusal thereof indicates that the desired report has not been prepared, as it was directed. In the meanwhile, the Chief Secretary, Government of Balochistan, has also sent a letter dated 09.04.2013, contents of para-3 therefrom are reproduced herein below:

“3. Similarly, due to above restrictions, the Government of Balochistan cannot provide funds to those schemes which are not reflected in PSDP during its preparation, but their requirement emerges during the currency of financial year. For example, relief and rehabilitation activities for any natural disaster or any emergent nature scheme like arrangement of drinking water facility to the drought stricken people of Gwadar. During usual business, the GoB provides funds to all such inevitable schemes which are not reflected in PSDP, from overall PSDP savings.”

6. The statement also contains a list wherein the expenditures as required after following the process of re-appropriation is identified. It is important to note that the Government of Balochistan had an obligation to initiate actions, civil as well as criminal, against the persons responsible for not spending the funds for the welfare of the general public, as a result whereof in the Province of Balochistan, despondency is increasing day by day. Had a sincere effort been made to reach the general public by securing their life and creating opportunities for them to earn their livelihood by introducing vital development schemes, situation would have been quite different today in the Province.

We have regrettably noted that in the letter mentioned above, sent by the Chief Secretary, instead of admitting the failure of the Government an attempt has been made to involve the Court and to shift its responsibility upon it, without even appreciating that due to the Court intervention, the public money has been saved from misappropriation, as it has been happening in the past.

7. It is also to be noted that, inter alia, the reasons for not approaching the general masses by creating opportunities for them so they may have improved their lives both as far as law and order is concerned and to earn their livelihood, being one of their Fundamental Right in terms of Article 9 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973, prima facie, the elected representatives/legislators have been involved to perform or act as the Executives by getting executed or identifying development schemes under the heading of Constituency Development Programmes where instead of allowing the Executives, the legislators are asked to identify the schemes to the extent of the budgetary amount, which is allocated for each representative like in the Balochistan Rs.25 crore per MPA for a financial year has been allotted. With the result that said persons identify the schemes within their Constituencies for their own benefit ignoring the people of the Province as whole as a result whereof the development has not taken place, as it should have. However, we have asked the learned counsel for the petitioners to assist us on this point before finally disposing of the matter.

We may pointed out here that such system of Constituency Development Programmes had commenced in Pakistan from the year of 1985 when there were Assemblies, elected on a non party basis and, this scheme/programme is going on from then onward. Otherwise, it is well developed consensus all over the world that as far as such development programmes are concerned they have been undertaken by the Executive and as far as the Legislature is concerned, it should have no say except to pass the budget and identify the areas which required the development.

With regards to this aspect of the matter, we would also like to hear the learned Attorney General for Pakistan. Notice be also issued to him.

8. As far as the request made by the respondents for the purpose of re-appropriation of the budgetary allocation, in view of the requirement, as has been noted hereinabove, subject to all just exceptions, we allow the request of the Government of Balochistan. However, a report, in this behalf, shall also be submitted for our perusal under the signature of the Chief Secretary, Government of Balochistan, on the next date of hearing.

9. Adjourned to date in office, after two weeks.

For more information, contact:
Shahid Hussain Kamboyo
Public Relations Officer
Supreme Court of Pakistan
Tel: +9251 920 4184
Fax: +9251 920 1001
Email: pro_scp@yahoo.com

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