KARACHI: The Sindh High Court has asked the ministry of inter-provincial coordination to file progress report about notification of final results of 2017 census.
A representative of the ministry informed the SHC that the federal cabinet had constituted a sub-committee to consider the issue and the issue could be resolved within two weeks.
When the petition of Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan against the delimitation of local government jurisdictions in Sindh came up for hearing before the two-judge bench headed by Justice Mohammad Ali Mazhar, a section officer of the ministry of inter-provincial coordination filed comments.
When the bench asked him when the final result of the population census will be notified, he submitted that the newly-constituted sub-committee would examine it and hopefully resolve it within a couple of weeks.
“The sub-committee should consider the matter which is most important and urgent in nature for an early approval”, the bench observed and directed the representative of the ministry to come up with a progress report on Oct 13.
Without publication of population census final results, exercise of delimitation cannot be carried out for LG polls
The bench further observed that the election commissioner of Sindh and an officer of Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS), Karachi had already given their statements that the elections of local government were not possible without notification of final result of census.
In an earlier hearing, a joint census commissioner PBS had informed the bench that the final result of census had already been sent to the Council of Common Interests and after its approval the same will be announced.
The Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan challenged the constitution of committees for delimitation of local government jurisdictions in Sindh and contended that the exercise of delimitation could not be carried out unless the final results of the population census were officially published.
Provincial ombudsman appointed, court told
The Sindh law department has informed the SHC that the appointment of the provincial ombudsman had taken place in line with policy duly approved by the Sindh cabinet and enacted by the provincial assembly through recent amendment to the Establishment of the Office of Ombudsman for the Province of Sindh (Amendment) Act, 2020.
The law department contended this by filing a response to a petition and questioned the maintainability of the petition challenging newly introduced amendment to the law.
The petition was filed by Pasban-i-Pakistan, a social rights group, challenging amendments to the law with regard to transfer of appointment power from governor of Sindh to the chief minister.
In the comments, the provincial law department’s focal person submitted that role of the governor in the Establishment of the Office of Ombudsman for the Province of Sindh Act 1991 is statutory created by the act of provincial assembly.
Therefore, in order to make the role of the provincial ombudsman more effective it was felt expedient to empower the chief minister and amend the law to the extent of only appointment of ombudsman and no provisions regarding qualification, tenure have been amended, the focal person added.
He further submitted that the procedure for appointment of the provincial ombudsman was lying with provincial government in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces.
Therefore, the focal person argued that the petition was not maintainable as the petitioner was not aggrieved person and not adversely affected by the appointment of provincial ombudsman with the approval of CM in terms of amendment Act 2020.
He contended that the petitioner had failed to make out any case with regard to illegality and violation of the law with regard to appointment of ombudsman in view of amendment in Section 3 of the Ombudsman Act 1991.
He said that amendment in Section 3 of the Act 1991 was made in line with provision as given in Article 116(2) and (3) of the Constitution which empowers provincial assembly to pass the bill with or without amendment returned by the governor with the message that bill or any specified provision be reconsidered.
He submitted that collective wisdom of the elected representatives of the people could not be called in question under any pretext if the amendment takes place exactly in line with the parameters. He requested the court to dismiss the petition.
The petitioner through its president Altaf Shakoor had filed the petition in SHC submitting that the chief minister of Sindh had jeopardised and taken over the powers of governor of Sindh for the appointment of the provincial ombudsman under the umbrella of Sindh Assembly by mala fidely misusing the majority of political seats and representation in the assembly.
He further submitted that the CM “snatched” the powers of governor for appointment of an impartial person in the provincial ombudsman office for check and balance and eradication of corruption and smooth function of the government and to redress the grievance of the general public who were aggrieved by the act of the government and its offices.
Published in Dawn, September 27th, 2020