ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court on Wednesday allowed the federal government to grant expenditure in terms of article 84 of the constitution if there is a scheme of national or public interest.

A three-member bench, headed by Chief Justice Tassaduq Hussain Jillani, however, said, “No discretionary grant shall be granted either by the prime minister or the minister. No funds shall be spent on any scheme at the behest of any MNA or MPA.”

The bench was hearing the review petitions against the judgement in the case of Rs47 billion spent by ex-PM Raja Pervaiz Ashraf at his discretion.

Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) Salman Butt argued that the constitutional intent reflected in article 84(a) of the constitution is that ‘in respect of any financial year if an amount authorised to be expended for a particular service for the said year is insufficient, or a need has arisen for expenditure upon some new service, which was not included in the annual budget for that year’ or ‘any money has been spent on any service during a financial year in excess of the amount granted for the said service for that year, the federal government shall have power to authorise expenditure from the Federal Consolidated Fund, whether the expenditure is charged by the Constitution upon that Fund or not, and shall cause to be laid before the National Assembly Supplementary Budget Statement or, as the case may be, an Excess Budget Statement, setting out the amount of that expenditure, and the provisions of Articles 80 to 83 shall apply to those statements as they apply to the Annual Budget Statement.’

He said that in Para 39 of the order on discretionary funds the court has made observation, which is not only violative of article 84 of the constitution, but also not in consonance with Paras 31 & 39 of the order. Haq Nawaz, Additional Secretary Finance informed the bench that the prime minister has surrendered his discretionary powers to allocate funds.

The court hearing the AGP said, “We find that the constitutional intent reflected in article 84 of the constitution is explicit in authorising the federal government to use the expenditure from the funds indicated therein and that power is available to the federal government both for a service which has already been authorised in the annual budget or any new service (article 84(a) and there is no clog which is indicated in the last line of para 39.”

The para 39 says, “In fact, rule 197 indicates that in the case of supplementary grants, the assent of the National Assembly is to be obtained before these funds are made available.”

The court noted that prima facie, the submissions made by the attorney general require consideration as in terms of article 84(a)&(b) of the constitution, the constitutional intent ex facie appears to be that for the exigencies/services mentioned in it, the federal government may spend the amount and thereafter the same be laid before the National Assembly in the supplementary budget or the excess budget statement.

The court in view of that issued notices to secretary finance and the auditor general for Pakistan for 2nd June.

The notices were also issued to other parties in the main judgement.