ISLAMABAD: The top court on Thursday declared that the prime minister cannot take decisions on financial matters without the prior approval of the cabinet.
“All discretionary spending without prior approval of the cabinet is contrary to law,” a judgment authored by Justice Mian Saqib Nisar read. Explaining that the federal government is a collective entity described as the “cabinet” comprising of the prime minister and federal ministers, the judgement added that “neither a secretary, nor a minister and nor the prime minister are the federal government, thus 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.”
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“Similarly, budgetary expenditure or discretionary governmental expenditure can only be authorised by the federal government i.e. the cabinet, and not the prime minister on his own,” Justice Nisar declared. According to the judgement, any act or statutory instrument, for example the Telecommunication (Re-Organisation) Act, 1996, purporting to describe any entity or organisation other than the cabinet as the federal government is ultra vires and a nullity.
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The court in its judgement, listed the following points:
(v) Ordinance making power can only be exercised after prior consideration by the cabinet. An ordinance issued without the prior approval of the cabinet is not valid. Similarly, no bill can be moved in parliament on behalf of the federal government without having been approved in advance by the cabinet. The cabinet has to be given a reasonable opportunity to consider, deliberate on and take decisions in relation to all proposed legislation, including the Finance Bill or Ordinance or Act. Actions by the prime minister on his own, in this regard, are not valid and are declared ultra vires.
(vii) Fiscal notifications enhancing the levy of tax issued by the secretary, Revenue Division, or the minister, are ultra varies.
(viii) In consequence of the the impugned notifications are declared ultra vires and are struck down.
Courtesy : Express Tribune