PHC orders release of monthly stipend to artistes in 2 weeks
PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court (PHC) has directed the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government to pay a monthly stipend to artistes of the province within 15 days.
A division bench comprising Justice Syed Afsar Shah and Justice Ishtiaq Ibrahim asked the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government to pay the stipend within a fortnight or else the secretaries concerned would face the contempt of court proceedings.
The bench passed the order in contempt of court petition filed by the artistes of the province including Zulfiqar Qureshi, Ahmed Sajjad, Ishrat Abbas, Zar Mohammad and Saeeda.
They had sought implementation of the court decision wherein the government was directed to pay the monthly stipend which is Rs 30,000 to the artistes without further delay.
During the hearing, the counsel for the petitioners submitted that the previous provincial government had approved endowment fund for the artistes and started paying Rs30, 000 monthly stipend to each of the 500 registered artistes including actors, singers, composers, poets, film, drama writers and directors.
He pointed out that the government then started payment of the monthly stipend, but after two months the stipend was stopped by the provincial government after the court’s stay order in a writ petition by some self-styled artistes.
However, he said, the high court then vacated the stay order and dismissed the writ petition in which they had prayed the court to also include them in the list of artistes.
The counsel pointed out before the court that even after the court direction to the government to restart payment the stipend had been pending for about one year for unknown reasons.
The lawyer submitted that non-payment of the stipend to the artistes even after the court order was a clear case of the contempt of court.
In the petition, the artistes stated that they had dedicated their lives to the promotion of the art and culture but were being treated like beggars.
They said that the families of most of the senior artistes were facing starvation owing to the attitude of the Directorate of Culture.
Nadia, one of the artistes who had moved the court, said the court delivered a verdict and chief minister also ordered early payment to the artistes but the Culture Department was yet to implement the order of the court.
She said the chief minister should direct the relevant officials of the Directorate of Culture to release cheques for the stipends to the artistes.
It is to be mentioned that the local artistes had also held several protest demonstrations against the provincial government for not paying monthly stipend to them, but the issue had remained unresolved.