ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court on Tuesday stopped the caretaker government to release development funds during its tenure because it may influence the election process.

The bench observed that elected representatives should only disburse development fund, therefore, the caretaker government should not grant any amount until May 11.

A three-member bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, directed the Secretary Finance Ministry to tell whether PEPRA rules were followed during the distribution of nearly Rs42 billions PWP-II funds among parliamentarians and others.

It is to be noted here that the court has taken suo motu notice on a news report that former prime minister Raja Pervez Ashraf doled out billions of rupees in the form of development funds ten days after having completed his tenure in office.

The court has asked the secretary ministry of finance to explain that whether People’s Works Development Programme-II (PWP) funds could be distributed among the notables and members provincial assemblies.

The court also issued notice to Managing Directors (MDs) Sui Southern and Sui-Northern and PEPCO to submit report that whether the projects schemes had been executed in a transparent manner and according to the rules and regulations, adding that what is the status of these development schemes after the release of Rs42 billions PWP-II fund.

During the hearing, the court was surprised to know that Rs30 billions funds, which were allocated to WAPDA, Lowery Tunnel, Higher Education Commission (HEC) etc, had been diverted to other sectors without the consent of these departments, adding that whether the country does not need money for producing the electricity and whether HEC had surrendered amount, which was allocated to it.

The court also asked the finance ministry that whether the allocation of fund for development schemes after March 10 by PPP led government was not the violation of Election Commission of Pakistan’s January 21 order. Accountant General Pakistan Revenue (AGPR) representative Tahir Mahmood told the bench that a substantial amount of Rs22 billion was allocated for the PWDP-II in the current fiscal budget, adding that the amount was increased to Rs 52 billion by diverting Rs30 billion from other running projects.

He submitted that out of Rs47 billion PWP II fund, around 42 billions had already been released to different departments as five billions were stopped by cabinet division.

Likewise, Federal Secretary Finance Waqar Masood submitted a report in pursuance of the court orders. However, the bench directed him to place a report before the bench during next date of hearing in response to the court’s several queries.

The chief justice asked him what was the mechanism in the ministry to ensure that funds were allocated for the project would be utilized for the same project. He also asked the secretary that whether the incumbent prime minister had also approved development fund. Upon this, Waqar Masood replied that the premier wanted to assist the flood affectees in Balochistan.

Objecting the prime minister’s this initiative to help the flood affectees in Balochistan; the CJP observed that a wrong impression would be sent to the people during the elections campaign as well as it was the violation of ECP’s order.

He also asked that how the former PM could disburse PWP-II funds among MPAs as the money was also distributed among PML-Q leaders Moonis Ealhi and Raja Basharat, adding that Rs100 millions PWP-II were also given to a person, belonged to Balochistan.

The hearing of the case is adjourned until May 6.