ISLAMABAD: A day before the meeting of the federal cabinet, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday issued restraining order against suspension of the mayor of the Municipal Corporation Islamabad (MCI).

On Feb 13, Local Government Commission headed by Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Capital Development Authority (CDA) Affairs MNA Ali Nawaz Awan decided to proceed against Mayor Sheikh Anser Aziz for a number of charges. During a meeting, acting Chief Metropolitan Officer (CMO) Humayun Akhtar, who is member engineering CDA, filed a reference with the commission against the mayor.

Mr Awan also recommended to the federal government to suspend the mayor belonging to the PML-N for three months till the completion of the inquiry.

However, Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed, a member of the commission, wrote a letter to its secretary stating that at the Feb 13 meeting no decision for suspension of the mayor had been taken.

“The only decision in this regard was to form an inquiry committee regarding the reference filed against the mayor, which has been duly noted in the minutes of the meeting.”

In his reference, the CMO alleged that two dozen staff members were in personal use of the mayor.

The mayor was also using official vehicles beyond his entitlement. The CMO said the MCI was being used by the mayor for his personal glorification. The charge sheet stated that the mayor in the absence of rules made transfers/postings and took disciplinary action.

Mayor Aziz filed the petition against the filing of the reference and subsequent recommendation for his suspension.

After preliminary hearing on Monday, IHC Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani restrained the government from taking any decision regarding suspension of the mayor.

The court clubbed petitions related to disputes between the MCI and the district administration and the one filed by the mayor and decided to fix the entire case related to power sharing within the Islamabad capital territory on Feb 21.

In the petition, the mayor stated that the MCI was established under the Local Government Act 2015 wherein several political, financial and administrative functions were devolved to it.

The petition contended that the union councils established in Islamabad in general and the MCI in particular had been crippled by the PTI government. Not only the mayor but other chosen representatives of the local government are also facing problems in executing their lawful responsibilities.

The petition alleged that soon after his appointment as the chairman of the Local Government Commission Ali Nawaz Awan started creating hurdles in the affairs of the mayor. He also started hatching conspiracies to curb the powers of the mayor.

The petition said recently the IHC in a matter related to the financial matters of the MCI issued a restraining order to the chief commissioner against utilisation of development funds.

The petition claimed that Mr Awan was not happy with the order and had filed the reference against the mayor on flimsy grounds and recommended his suspension.

It said the allegations leveled against the mayor appeared to be political vengeance.

Published in Dawn, February 18th, 2020