ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Monday ordered to resolve the tug of war between the Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad (MCI) and the Capital Development (CDA) that had led to the residents of the capital to suffer hugely.

Headed by Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed, a five-judge Supreme Court bench directed Mayor Sheikh Ansar Aziz, CDA Chairman Aamir Ali Ahmed, secretaries of interior and finance, Deputy Attorney General Sohail Mehmood as well as Advocate General Islamabad Niazullah Khan Niazi to meet and resolve the issue.

The purpose is to sit together and find out a viable solution to let MCI to perform its functions in accordance with Islamabad Capital Territory Local Government Act (ICTLGA) 2015.

“Since ICTLGA is in field; therefore, the local government has to work and deliver for which they have been elected by the people of this city,” observed the chief justice while dictating the order.

Since LG law is in field, local govt has to work and deliver for which it has been elected by people, observes CJ

The first meeting will be held at the office of the secretary interior at 3pm on Wednesday after which further meetings could take place on a day to day basis. A comprehensive report is also required to be furnished before the court.

The order came against the backdrop of the deepening fissure between MCI and CDA over the exercise of authority and utilise finances to run the capital city.

On Jan 6, 2017, the Ministry of Interior through a notification in terms of ICTLGA divided the rights, assets and liabilities among the MCI, CDA and the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT).

On the one hand, the mayor was complaining that ICTLGA was not being implemented in letter and spirit and on the other the interior secretary was claiming that the MCI had failed to develop the Schedule of Establishment and Rules of Business to run the corporation amicably - an allegation the mayor denied vehemently.

Justice Umar Ata Bandial, however, recalled mayors Naimatullah of Karachi and Shujaur Rehman of Lahore and suggested to the Islamabad mayor to win the trust and hearts of the people of the city through relentless service.

“We have seen mayors doing work with their own hands,” Justice Bandial observed but regretted that politics had entered the arena when the government should have ensured that all constitutional offices should become functional.

“Whichever party is in power, politics should not enter but if the mayor does not perform actions could be taken against them,” Justice Bandial observed.

The chief justice added that the mayor was not an adversary to the government and all should try to jointly serve the country and the city. A dysfunctional office of the mayor also reflects badly upon the interior ministry, the chief justice said.

Pointing towards the mayor, the chief justice observed that he needs to show his mettle by his performance since he is an elected representative and enjoyed the backing of the people.

The government should facilitate the office of the mayor though it can keep an eye on the mayor but things should be streamlined instead of creating irritants, Justice Ijazul Ahsan observed.

The interior ministry claims that the CDA had provided nearly Rs19 billion to the MCI during the last four years while Rs6 billion had been granted this year.

But the mayor argues that the amount was not for the development of the city rather salaries of over 10,600 transferred employees on which he had no control.

The mayor had repeatedly plead before the court that the administrative control of all the employees transferred to the MCI from CDA be given to him in matters relating to discipline and transfer and posting for smooth running of the corporation.

The mayor had also said that according to the Act the Building Control and Estate Management was the responsibility of the MCI but the CDA had not handed over the control of the department.

Similarly, property tax collection falls within the domain of the MCI but the CDA has also not handed it over to MCI rather has been collecting the tax right from the day of the enforcement of ICTLGA.

On Monday, the Supreme Court bench also took exception to the permission granted by the Prime Minister Office in 2008 to utilise green areas or buffer zones for the construction of large buildings where universities like Nust, International Islamic University, graveyard, CDA’s Disaster Management Department have been set up in sectors like H-8, H-9, H-11, H-12, H-13, H-14, H-15 and H-16 etc.

The court said the decision to change the green areas needs to be examined for an authoritative pronouncement. The chief justice also required the CDA to furnish a report in this regard.

The CDA is also required to furnish a report regarding encroachments, road rehabilitations, sector development, construction of overhead bridges, underpasses, cleaning of water streams, construction of public toilets, improvement of water supply, stone crushing etc.

Published in Dawn, June 2nd, 2020