ISLAMABAD-The Islamabad High Court (IHC) Monday reissued notices to the Secretaries of Ministry of Health and Ministry of Information and others in a petition filed against the use of the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) flag on the Sehat (health) card.

A single bench of IHC comprising Chief Justice of IHC Justice Athar Minallah conducted hearing of the petition moved by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N)’s Member of the National Assembly, Barrister Mohsin Shahnawaz Ranjha and Noorul Hassan Tanveer to stop the use of the PTI flag on health cards. The IHC bench also reissued notices to Attorney General for Pakistan and directed all the respondents to submit their replies in this matter. After issuing aforementioned directions, the court deferred hearing in this regard for two weeks. During the hearing, Deputy Attorney General Tayyab Shah appeared before the court on behalf of the federation while Barrister Shah Nawaz represented the PML-N.

Barrister Ranjha said that the public money could not be used for the interest of a party. He added that it is violation of general financial rules to use public money for the ruling party.

The bench said that it should be explained before the court that why the decision of Supreme Court of Pakistan was violated in this matter. Previously, the counsel for the petitioner drew the attention of the court to order dated 28.02.2018 passed by the august Supreme Court in Suo Motu Case titled ‘Action taken on the advertisements in various print and electronic media regarding projects/works done by the Government of Punjab, Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.’

The court observed that a plain reading of the said order of the apex court unequivocally shows that public funds cannot be used in any manner for ‘self-projection and aggrandizement’ under the garb of informing the public about the projects completed or being undertaken by the respective governments.

The counsels have further also mentioned the judgment of the High Court of Balochistan titled ‘Chamber of Commerce and Industry Quetta Balochistan through Deputy Secretary vs Director-General Quetta Development Authority and others,’ wherein, inter alia, reference has been made to the General Financial Rules of the Federal Government, Vol. I & II, and standards of propriety prescribed therein. 

The Federal Government and the respective governments of the provinces, therefore, prima facie, appear to be violating the order of the Supreme Court, dated 28.02.2018, passed in suo moto case of 2018 by printing or displaying pictures of public office holders, flags or colours of political parties or other content having the effect of ‘self-projection and aggrandizement,’ whether directly or indirectly.

The IHC bench noted, “The Secretary, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of Pakistan is, therefore, directed to nominate an authorised representative to appear in person before this Court on the next date fixed along with written comments and explain why the Federal Government and organisations controlled by the latter may not be directed to forthwith discontinue the practice, which is in violation of the unambiguous law enunciated by the august Supreme Court vide order, dated 28.02.2018.”

It added, “The official/representative will also be expected to explain why initiation of proceedings against the persons responsible for violating the law laid down by the august Supreme Court and disregard for the prescribed standards of financial propriety, may not be ordered.”

The PML-N has challenged the advertisement of PTI’s flag on Sehat Insaf cards which have been distributed among people to provide them with health insurance.