The federal government on Wednesday challenged the suspension of a Rs341 billion relief package for farmers. The implementation of portions of the National Kissan Relief Package was suspended by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) last week.
The package was announced less than three weeks after the schedule for local government elections had been issued in Punjab and Sindh.
The ECP took suo motu notice of the announcement ahead of the local government elections and summoned the secretaries of the Food Security and Information ministries to justify the announcement of the package and its promotion in print and electronic media. In a petition filed with the Islamabad High Court (IHC) against the ECP’s suspension, the federal government claimed that the relief package was suspended without hearing the Ministry of Finance. The petition stated that suspending the implementation of the Kissan package was a violation of Article 10-A of the Constitution, which deals with the right to a fair trial. The petition also stated that the respondent did not have the jurisdiction to restrict the federal government from discharging its constitutional and statutory functions.
The petition said that the beneficiaries of the National Kissan Relief Package – the farmers and the farming community – were neither invited, nor issued notices, nor heard, which was a violation of the principles of natural justice was. It stated that political parties were also deprived of their right to be consulted. “Violating the Political Parties Order, 2002, the respondent (ECP) did not even consult the political parties while preparing and publishing the codes of conduct, however, codes of conduct were issued as an afterthought by the respondent after the approval and announcement of the National Kissan Relief Package. “ The petition stated that the package was not aimed at local election voters, and that the issuance and implementation of the Kissan package constitutes a purely executive function of the federal government. It claimed that the relief package has no nexus with the elections, including the upcoming local government elections in Punjab, Sindh and Islamabad.