SC questions mechanism of zakat fund disbursement

By Adnan Rafique

ISLAMABAD: Supreme Court has sought opinion from Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) and Mufti Taqi Usmani regarding the payment of salaries of the Baitul Maal staff from the zakat fund. During the suo motu hearing of the coronavirus case on Monday, Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed asked CII to give an opinion if the zakat fund could be used by Baitul Maal for office expenditures. The CJP then further directed Baitul Maal to submit a report on the distribution of zakat funds.
The chief justice inquired where the zakat funds were being spent as no report had been submitted in court by the Bait-ul-Maal department. Asking about the mechanism of disbursement of the country’s Rs9 billion Zakat fund, the chief justice, noting that the real issue was of transparency, said the funds should not be used on expenses of government officials.
He added that the provincial governments had submitted records of the amount they have distributed, however, details of how the funds were spent had not been submitted and asked all the provinces and ICT to submit a report on the disbursement of funds during the next hearing.
Justice Umar Ata Bandial, a member of the larger bench, observed that while the court has been informed that the federal government collects Rs9 billion in Zakat, which is later shared with provinces, details of disbursement have not been provided. Justice Bandial further said that the federal government should conduct an audit of the fund as it will not affect provincial autonomy. The chief justice also asked secretary health regarding the quarantine centres set up in Islamabad. Explaining the measures taken by the government in the federal capital, the secretary stated that so far 16 quarantine centres have been set up in various hotels, Haji Camp, ODGCL building and the Pak-China Friendship Center.