18th Amendment violation Punjab govt to move SC
By: By Intikhab Hanif
LAHORE: The Punjab government is preparing a reference which it wants to file in the Supreme Court for seeking a number of functions which it says the federal government has ‘grabbed’ despite their devolution to provinces under the 18th Amendment.
‘The law secretary, the advocate general and the prosecutor general are preparing the reference after getting a feedback from the departments concerned,’ an official told Dawn on Thursday.
The Punjab government had in July last withdrawn its demand of convening a meeting of the Council of Common Interests for resolving the issues about the ‘incomplete devolution’, asking the prime minister to himself intervene in the matter or it would file a reference in the Supreme Court for a decision.
The request of the CCI meeting was made by Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif in a letter sent to Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani.
But, sources said, since this demand had not been met, the only option left for the provincial government was to approach the Supreme Court for getting its right.
‘We also intend to knock the doors of the apex court because of legal opinion by some quarters that the CCI only deals with matters of ‘common interests,’ whereas the claim of the Punjab government over the non-devolved functions pertains purely to its own interest. It’s a dispute,’ an official remarked.
The province maintains that although the devolved ministries have formally been dissolved, many of the institutions and their functions or assets have been unconstitutionally retained by the federation and assigned to the other existing ministries instead of being handed over to the provinces.
For example, hunting areas for foreign dignitaries have been transferred from the Ministry of Environment and assigned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The subject of seed testing and seed certification has been reallocated from the Ministry of Food and Agriculture to the Ministry of Science and Technology while Passco has been transferred to the Ministry of Commerce.
The proposed Drug Regulatory Authority has been placed under the Cabinet Division. Similarly, Sheikh Zayed Hospital and Post-Graduate Medical Institute have been retained with the Cabinet Division.
The administration of the Workers Welfare Fund Ordinance 1971, the Companies Profits (Workers Participation) Act, 1968, the Employees Old Age Benefits Act, 1976 along with ancillary institutions have been reallocated from the Ministry of Labour and Manpower to Inter-Provincial Coordination Division (IPCD).
The Evacuee Trust Property Board and its assets have been transferred from the Ministry of Minorities Affairs to the Ministry of Human Rights.
Most subjects relating to the Ministry of Sports have been assigned to the Pakistan Sports Board which is attached to the IPCD.
The Iqbal Academy and Aiwan-i-Iqbal have been assigned to the IPCD. The administration of Pakistan Baitul Mal has been allocated to the prime minister’s secretariat.
The National College of Arts, Lahore, along with its Rawalpindi campus, the Tourism Development Corporation and its subsidiaries have been assigned to the IPCD.
All such decisions are wholly unconstitutional, being a negation of devolution as mandated by the 18th Amendment, the province maintains, demanding transfer of all such subjects to it.