ISLAMABAD: Rejecting the federal government’s last plea against its verdict that curtailed the premier’s discretionary powers in fiscal matters, the top court has observed that the view expended in its judgment regarding the definition of the ‘federal government’ is founded upon a consideration of various provisions of law, the Constitution and the historical legal background.
On August 18, the apex court ruled that the prime minister cannot act unilaterally on the country’s financial issues or approve any ordinance without first gaining the federal cabinet’s approval, citing constitutional strictures.
“Neither a secretary, nor a minister and nor the prime minister is the federal government, and the exercise, or purported exercise, of a statutory power exercisable by the federal government by any of them, especially in relation to fiscal matters, is constitutionally invalid and a nullity in the eyes of the law,” said the verdict.
The landmark ruling will have a far reaching impact as it has curtailed the discretionary powers used by successive regimes to run affairs of government. In view of implications, the government filed a review petition, which was also rejected on Nov 4 by a three-judge bench, headed by Justice Mian Saqib Nisar.
Now, the court has issued a three-page written order on the rejection of the federal government’s review plea. A copy of the order is available with The Express Tribune.
Authoring the order, the SC’s senior most judge, Justice Nisar, has observed that it is the function of the court to interpret the law and to explain it. He says in case of the federal government, no such provision has been ignored and misread.
“Only for the reason that a different interpretation, according to the review petitioner, is possible by itself is no ground for reviewing a well-considered decision,”
The order holds that all the questions highlighted in leave granted order have been elaborately and comprehensively dealt and dilated upon in the judgment. Likewise, no omission in this regard has been pointed out.
“Neither any relevant provision of the Constitution or the law has been left out of consideration nor is it the petitioner’s (finance ministry) case that those have been misread.”
“The question regarding the power of PM under the Constitution was necessary and ancillary to the main proposition, ie, what constitutes the ‘federal government’ and in the law and the latter question could not have been answered without providing an answer to the former.
“…In this regard during hearing of the case, the counsels for parties were asked questions, submissions in this context were made by them. Thus the plea has no force,” it says.
Implications of the SC’s final judgment:
A senior government functionary believes that the federal government may soon introduce a new constitutional amendment as it will not be possible now to smoothly run the affairs of the federal government.
“Giving the cabinet more leverage would mean slowing down day-to-day working of the government. The implications equally apply to the General Headquarters (GHQ) and provincial governments,” he said.
“Imagine if there is a coalition government. In that case the junior coalition partners will have a trump card in their hands, and there will be a constant blackmailing,” he said.
The official said both the federal and provincial cabinets would have to be in session 24-hours because the PM and chief ministers would not be able to take any step without prior approval of their cabinets.