ISLAMABAD - The federal government has challenged the Supreme Court’s judgment that curtailed powers of the prime minister in fiscal matters.

Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) office on behalf of the Ministry of Finance has filed a review petition against the apex court’s August 18 judgment that the prime minister could not act unilaterally on financial issues and also could not approve any ordinance without prior approval of his cabinet. The Punjab government will also challenge that SC’s verdict, the sources said.

The federal government contends that the formulation regarding the collective responsibility under a parliamentary form of the government is not correct statement of law, adding the principal of collective responsibility has two main aspects, one political and the other is legal.

It says that the legal aspect of collective responsibility is that an act of the executive, howsoever taken, is binding, while the political aspect is that every minister of the government is responsible to the parliament for the actions of the executive and if he does not agree with any decision of the government, he may resign. But he cannot express his differences through a decision in public.

The review says that the restoration of the original text of 1973 constitution also supports that the PM has discretionary powers in every matter, adding that in failing to appreciate that in addition to the exercise of the executive authority of the federation, the PM has certain additional constitutional functions, the difference between the PM and cabinet has been rendered naught, thereby resulting in a potential constitutional crisis.

It is submitted that if for any reason, the PM was to dismiss the current cabinet consisting of existing federal ministers today and appoint new cabinet consisting entirely of different federal ministers tomorrow, the absence of the cabinet in the intervening night will not render the country without a federal government.

In the past, the portfolios and the powers of the federal ministers will be vested with the PM for the intervening period. This illusion qualifies such an interpretation of Article 90 (1) whereby the federal government is considered to consist of the PM and the federal ministers but not necessary in form of cabinet.