Press Trust of india

Pak apex court asks Punjab govt to deposit Rs 5.5 mn spent on ads

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Islamabad, Mar 8: The Pakistan’s Supreme Court today ordered Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif to deposit Rs 5.5 million to the national exchequer for spending “extravagantly” the taxpayer’s money on advertisments to highlight the acheivements of the provincial government.

Hearing the case suo motu, a three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice (CJP) Saqib Nisar, took exception to the alleged hefty annual expenditure on advertisements by the state government.

Appearing before the court on behalf of the PML(N)-led Punjab government, when the provincial information secretary said that Rs 120 million was being spent on advertisements in one month.

Observing that annually, it comes to Rs 1.5 billion, the CJP was critical of the money being spent on the advertisments by the governments and asked if the country was someone’s kingdom.

When a clipping of newspaper advertisment with the picture of the Punjab chief minister was produced before the court, Justice Nisar asked about the purpose and cost of the advertisement.

When the court was informed by the Punjab chief secretary that the purpose of the advertisement in question was to show the development work done by the provincial government and that Rs 5.5 million was spent on it, the judge ordered Sharif to reimburse the amount to the national exchequer.

The Chief Justice also wondered if projection of development work was equal to “pre-poll rigging”.

The court also ordered the Punjab government and All Pakistan Newspapers Society to submit detailed replies in the case.

Earlier, the apex court last month took the case suo moto following reports that the provincial governments of Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Punjab were spending hefty amounts on advertisements ahead of election later this year.

Hearing the case, the CJP had said that taxpayers money was being used for self-promotion and big advertisements were awarded at the nation’s expense.

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