SC ‘un-freezes’ Rs 7 billion

Supreme Court

ISLAMABAD: On the request of the Balochistan government, the Supreme Court (SC) has withdrawn the stay order from Rs 7 billion fund meant for different development schemes, and which has been approved by the Planning and Development Department.

A three-member SC bench, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, while hearing a petition filed by Abdul Rahim, a leader of Pakhtunkwa Milli Awami Party, directed the Balochistan chief secretary to supervise the development schemes in the province. The court directed the provincial government to execute the development schemes within the amount allocated for them.

It also directed the Balochistan government to not transfer a scheme from one department to another on the pressure of provincial ministers. The bench has asked the committee formed on the SC order to submit its report within 30 days regarding the alleged misappropriation in the development schemes that have been completed during last four years.

During the hearing of the case, Khawaja Haris, counsel for Balochistan government, contended that it is a normal practice that every scheme is approved by the Planning and Development Department. He said that due to the SC stay order, Rs 700 million development fund meant for the flood victims had been stopped. The counsel said that out of a total of 732 development schemes, 349 had already been approved by the Planning and Development Department and approval for others was in process.

Meanwhile, counsel for applicant Shakil Ahmad alleged that the allocated fund was misappropriated in the name of development schemes, claiming that the development projects were being used for political purposes. He told the court that no Public Accounts Committee was working in the province due to the absence of opposition leader in the Balochistan Assembly. The counsel has also raised objection over the increase of amount for the development schemes. He said that the projects were being transferred to other departments due to the intervention of political leaders. The hearing of the case has been adjourned for two weeks. – Dalytimes