KARACHI: The Supreme Court has dissolved its commission on water and sanitation in Sindh and directed the provincial government to implement its recommendations for proper use of water resources and improve the sanitation system, it emerged on Saturday.

The three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed also directed the chief secretary of Sindh and the provincial law officer to file a comprehensive report after one month regarding compliance of the commission’s recommendations.

While disposing of the main petition filed in 2016 by Advocate Shahab Usto with other applications on the water and sanitation system in Sindh, the bench asked the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to process its investigations into embezzlement of funds in installing RO/UF plants and the Sindh Coal Authority and finalise the same expeditiously.

Tells the provincial govt to implement its recommendations, file a compliance report after one month

The bench in its order, issued on Saturday, said: “We have noted that on the last date, some suggestions were made for the appointment of the water commission. We find no reason why the water commission needs to be continued. The water commission appointed by this court has already submitted its report/recommendations”.

It further said that it was the duty of the provincial government to ensure that recommendations of the commission were implemented.

The bench directed the advocate general of Sindh to appear before it at next hearing and submit a comprehensive report regarding compliance of the commission’s recommendations and also asked the chief secretary to update the court on compliance.

The additional prosecutor general of NAB filed a report regarding embezzlement of government funds in installing RO/UF plants in Sindh and the bench noted that a similar matter was also pending at the apex court Karachi registry about the Sindh Coal Authority in which a report was also filed by the auditor general of Pakistan.

It issued directives to club both the cases and said that since these matters were pending with NAB, the investigations must be finalised expeditiously.

The bench observed that the provincial government had appropriate legislation to use and distribute water resources in Sindh and if any further law was required, it might be enacted for proper conservation, use and distribution of water resources.

Periodical reports from each district of Sindh regarding compliance of the commission’s recommendations must be submitted before the bench and such reports be obtained from the commissioners of the divisions concerned, it added.

“The water commission shall cease to exist from today and the entire record pertaining to the water commission shall be handed over by the registrar of the commission to the chief secretary, government of Sindh by tomorrow, who shall ensure its safe custody”, it ruled.

Secretariat disbanded, registrar relieved

The bench directed the provincial authorities to file a preliminary report about compliance after one month and also disbanded the secretariat of the water commission and relieved its registrar Ghulam Mustafa Channa and asked him to report for duty to his original department.

The bench further ruled that periodical orders passed by the commission were not to be treated as orders of the apex court, but part of the proceedings of the commission, adding that such orders were in the nature of memorandums, recommendations or diary of the commission.

The petition was filed in 2016, and thereafter the apex court had formed the commission headed by Justice Mohammad Iqbal Kalhoro of the Sindh High Court to hold an in-depth inquiry into the water and sanitation problems of the province and to make recommendations for improvement.

After holding a thorough probe, the commission submitted its report in the apex court and in January 2018 the Supreme Court had appointed Justice Amir Hani Muslim, former judge of the apex court, head of the commission for the implementation of the recommendations of Justice Kalhoro. Justice Muslim completed his tenure in January 2019 and since then the commission remained dormant.

Published in Dawn, February 2nd, 2020

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