MABAD - The Supreme Court on Thursday observed that without legislation the National Commission for Human Development (NCHD) and National Education Foundation (NEF) could not be abolished.
A three-member bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry was hearing the constitutional petitions regarding closing down Basic Education of Community Schools and devolution of National Commission for Human Development.
The Chief Justice said that the government could not close down NCHD and NEF when the law is alive. Its written in the Constitution that the government will allocate funds for the education, he added.
Makhdoom Ali Khan, who appeared as amicus curiae said that NCHD and the NEF were on the federal legislative and even if they are on the concurrent list then specific law is required to repeal them. He said that the federal government was conscious of the fact that NCHD and NEF could not be transferred to provinces, besides it gave these two institutions to provinces.
He said that due to bad policies of the governments it was difficult to find good teachers of English, Urdu and Mathematics in state-run schools. He said that in 1960s and 70s the students of state-run schools were well qualified to compete with the students of private schools in every field.
He added that Article 25A of the Constitution says: The State shall provide free and compulsory education to all children of the age of five to sixteen years in such manner as may be determined by law. Makhdoom said in the developed countries the major chunk of the annual budget is spent on education, health and infrastructure, but in our country this goes to Defence sector. Justice Khilji Arif Hussain remarked: If huge funds are allocated for education, health and infrastructure then from where the salaries of the armed forces will be paid?
Chairman Federal Bureau of Revenue informed the court that from 1985 to 1994 Rs 66 billion were collected under the head of Iqra surcharge. The CJP inquired where this amount has been spent on if not on the education? The Secretary Finance said that he needed time to file the details of it. The Chief Justice asked Attorney General for Pakistan Maulvi Anwar-ul-Haq that the tax levied on petrol is for the development, but it was spent somewhere else.
The counsel for NEF complained that since July till to-date the employees of NEF didnt get salaries. The Chief Justice asked the Attorney General to look into this matter. The AGP replied that he needed time to seek instructions from the concerned authorities in this regard.
The Chief Justice said that it was quite appreciative that due to President Asif Ali Zardaris directives Railways employees got salaries. Similarly, the Punjab government has paid the salaries to Punjab Colleges Pilot Projects. He said that if the workers would not get the salaries then how would they run their houses.
The AGP said still the final decision has not been taken to close down NCHD and NEF. Justice Khilji questioned if that has not happened then why the salaries of staff of NCHD and NEF have been stopped for the last four months.
Kamal Asfar, counsel for (NCHD) said that the federal government could not abdicate from its responsibility, as it is the duty of the federation to supplement the non-formal education. He said that out of 150,000 students enrolled in the non-formal school 90 per cent are women.
The Punjab and Sindh governments stance was that if the federal government provides them funds then they are ready to own these two institutions, while the Khyber Pukhtoonkhawa and Balochistan said that NEF and NCHD are under the control of the federal government. The hearing was adjourned till today.