ISLAMABAD  - A Division Bench of Islamabad High Court yesterday rejected the federal government’s request to stay the Election Commission of Pakistan’s decision to suspend the National Kissan Relief Package worth Rs 341 billion.

The two-member bench of IHC comprising Justice Noor-ul-Haq N Qureshi and Justice Aamir Farooq conducted the hearing of the government’s petition and observed that the stay order would complicate the situation.

They noted, “therefore, we would like to hear this petition on the next date of hearing for which specific direction be issued to the respondent (ECP) to come to argue the main petition as well as the civil miscellaneous petition (regarding stay order).”

The bench added that it will decide this issue after hearing from both sides.

Later, the court deferred the hearing of this matter till October 13 after issuing notices to the respondent ECP.

During the hearing, Attorney General of Pakistan Salman Butt appeared before the court in this matter and said that the farmers had been protesting throughout the country and the federal government announced this package after negotiating with the farmers.

The AG contended that the package has no nexus with attracting voters in the local bodies election. However, the IHC division bench rejected his request for stay order.

Federal Ministry of Food Security and Research moved the petition through an additional attorney general of Pakistan and challenged ECP’s decision whereby it had restrained the federal government to implement NKRP.

On September 29, the ECP had restrained the federal government from implementing the National Kissan package. While declaring it a violation of the election code of conduct, the ECP had partially restrained the federal government from implementing the NKRP due to the upcoming local bodies elections in Punjab and Sindh.

The government contended that the Election Commission without any jurisdiction and without consulting the relevant stakeholders such as Ministry of Finance and Planning Commission, unilaterally announced the decision that is liable to be set aside.

It was September 15 when Prime minister Nawaz Sharif announced NKRP with Rs5,000 per acre to the farmers with 12.5 acres land, raising of price index unit from 2,000 to 4,000 rupees for the rice growers and a decrease of 2 per cent on the interest for the rice and cotton growers.