ISLAMABAD - The Islamabad High Court yesterday reserved its verdict over maintainability of a petition challenging government’s decision to divert Rs24 billion of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor for discretionary spending on parliamentarians’ schemes.

A single bench comprising Chief Justice of IHC Justice Athar Minallah conducted hearing of the petition filed by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz Member National Assembly Mohsin Ranjha and reserved the judgment after hearing his arguments.

During the hearing, Justice Athar remarked, “Matters which can and should be resolved in Parliament should not be brought before the court.”

“You are a member of the National Assembly, so you should approach the Parliament,” he said to Ranjha.

He added that the court wanted to uphold supremacy of the Parliament. “You could have obtained these details through the Parliament as well.”

At this, Ranjha said, “I sought details from the Ministry of Planning as an MNA, however, I did not receive a response even after days.” Justice Athar remarked, “If MNAs use their authority then that is good for the Parliament. Do not bring parliamentary matters in court. This court does not even have the authority that MNAs have.”

After hearing petitioner’s arguments, the court reserved its judgment over maintainability of the petition.

The petitioner filed the petition seeking to freeze transfer of funds, and to seek details from the Ministry of Planning and Development that how they would be utilised. In his petition, the PML-N MNA cited Federation of Pakistan through Ministry of Planning and Development and secretary planning as respondents.

Ranjha stated that he was aggrieved over refusal of the Ministry of Planning to divulge key information of public importance on diversion of funds to the tune of Rs24 billion from grant No 137 i.e. CPEC to grant No 108 i.e. discretionary spending on parliamentary schemes.

“Criticality of CPEC to the economic future of Pakistan and to global linkage in trade, commerce and investment as well as regional stability and peace is an admitted fact and every section of the government of Pakistan has owned up to its central importance for us,” said the petition.

The petitioner added that present government, ever since it took office, had made efforts to undermine the CPEC programme arbitrarily simply because of political differences with the previous government.

He mentioned, “Rs27 billion were allocated to CPEC out of which Rs24 billion have been diverted which can only be seen as an attempt to undo the hard work that has gone into CPEC and the same was done illegally and in violation of the mandate of Articles 78-84 of the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan.” The PML-N MNA said that in a letter to the ministry, he requested the provision of initial proposal for the diversion, cabinet approval and post approval directions to see whether the said diversion was done lawfully.

He added that planning ministry had failed to provide the information despite being obligated to do so under Article 9 of the Constitution.

Therefore, he prayed to the court, to direct the respondents to immediately furnish information requested by the petitioner and also suspend the disbursement/diversion of Rs24 billion from CPEC allocation till final adjudication of the present petition.