IHC seeks Finance Ministry’s comments in NFC case | Pakistan Today

IHC seeks Finance Ministry’s comments in NFC case

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Thursday sought comments from Ministry of Finance within two weeks on a petition against appointments in 10th National Finance Commission (NFC).

Justice Mohsin Akther Kiyani heard the petition moved by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) Khurram Dastagir. Barrister Mohsin Shahnawaz Ranjha and Finance Ministry’s representative appeared before the court.

During the course of proceeding, the representative of Finance Ministry requested the court to grant more time for submission of its reply in the case, which was granted by the bench.

The court adjourned hearing of the case till June 18.

On May 28, the court had directed the federal government to submit its response as it took up a petition questioning the inclusion of PM’s Special Assistant on Finance and Revenue Abdul Hafeez Shaikh in the 10th NFC without consultation in accordance with Article 160(1) of the Constitution.

The one-member bench comprising Justice Miangul Hassan had also sought responses from Federal Law Secretary Muhammad Khashihur Rehman, SAPM Shaikh, Principal Secretary to the president Tariq Najmi, Cabinet Secretary Ahmad Nawaz Sukhera and other respondents.

Barristers Mohsin Shahnawaz Ranjha and Omer Gilani had represented the petitioner in the court.

During the hearing, citing media reports, Barrister Omer Gilani had contended that Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah had also objected to the decision regarding the 10th NFC. To which, Justice Miangul Hassan had warned the lawyer to present “factual arguments instead of speculating” about the issue in question.

“Whatever you cannot resolve on the assembly floor, you bring it here [to courts],” the judge had remarked.

The judge had warned the barrister that if his petition got rejected then an “exemplary fine” would be imposed on the petitioner.

Justice Aurangzeb was of the view that instead of questioning the establishment of the commission, the petitioner should have questioned the inclusion of SAPM Shaikh in the commission.

Since the country did not have a regular/elected finance minister, President Dr Arif Alvi authorised the inclusion of Shaikh in the commission to enable him to chair meetings of the NFC otherwise there was no room in the Constitution for an adviser to be even a member of the commission let alone preside over its meetings.

In his arguments, Barrister Ranjha had noticed that the Constitution demands the country to be governed by elected representatives. “In the absence of an elected finance minister, who will be the convener [of the NFC]. The president cannot convene a session,” he had said.

Ranjha had pointed out to the fact that the Constitution leaves no room for a PM’s adviser, an unelected official, to call a session of the NFC. “In this case, we have to review whether the PM’s finance adviser is the only one who has been included without consultation,” the judge had remarked.

The court had subsequently issued notices to the respondents and adjourned the hearing.

10th NFC AWARD:

Last month, the Ministry of Finance had formally notified the constitution of the 10th NFC to announce a new award for sharing of federal divisible resources between the Centre and the provinces amid a fresh political debate on constitutional and financial powers of the federation and its units.

The notification of the constitution of the 11-member commission was issued after approval by federal and provincial members and its terms of reference by President Alvi as required under Article 160 (1) of the Constitution.

According to the notification, Finance Secretary Naveed Kamran Baloch will serve as an expert for the commission.



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