The Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) has ordered the Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif to pay Rs5.5 million back to the national exchequer for he putting up government advertisements in the newspapers.
Justice Saqib Nisar was hearing the suo motu notice over expenditure on government advertisements in the Lahore registry.
During the hearing, Secretary Information Punjab Raja Jahangir told the court that in a month’s time over Rs120 million worth of advertisements were put up to which the CJP responded saying “If in a month’s time this amount of money was spent then in a year’s time the amount would sum up to Rs10.5 billion.”
The CJP then inquired about a particular ad put up by the Punjab chief minister and secretary information said that the ad cost Rs5.5 million from the treasury.
CJP remarked that the same amount of money would have brought a huge chunk of medicines. He further directed provincial chief minister to submit Rs5.5 million to the national exchequer and sent notices to Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), CM Punjab and All Pakistan Newspapers Society.
The Supreme Court on February 28 took a suo motu notice of the advertising campaigns run on national media by three provinces – Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab and Sindh – to highlight their projects and asked the provincial governments to submit details of these campaigns within a week.
Heading a three-judge bench, CJP Mian Saqib Nisar asked whether spending huge amounts on media campaigns by provincial governments was not pre-poll rigging.
The bench noted that the provincial governments, through such advertisements, were doing self-projection and aggrandisement under the garb of informing the public about the projects completed or undertaken by them.