Govt given one month to amend LG law, SHC told

Published October 13, 2021
A file photo of the Sindh High Court. — Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons/File
A file photo of the Sindh High Court. — Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons/File

KARACHI: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Tuesday informed the Sindh High Court that it had directed the Sindh government to provide requisite data for delimitation and amend the local government law within a month.

The ECP said that it issued such directives through an order dated Oct 6 in a case filed before it regarding a delay in the LG elections in Sindh.

Advocate Abdullah Hanjrah appeared on behalf of the ECP and placed the order before the SHC bench headed by Chief Justice Ahmed Ali M. Shaikh.

He submitted that in case of non-compliance on the part of the provincial government, the ECP would re-fix the matter for hearing after one month and the chief secretary would appear in person for clarification and justification.

Earlier, the ECP submitted that it had notified delimitation committees for holding LG polls in Sindh, but the provincial government had yet to provide requisite data on the pretext that it had reservations on the official result of the 2017 census.

Initially, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan had approached the SHC and challenged the constitution of committees for delimitation of local government jurisdiction in the province stating that according to the Elections Act, 2017, the exercise of delimitation could not be carried out unless the final results of the population census were officially published.

Later, some other petitions were also filed and petitioners contended that LG government tenure ended on Aug 30, 2020, but the ECP failed to fulfil its obligation to conduct fresh elections within 120 days.

Petroleum products’ prices

The SHC on Tuesday directed the federal authorities to inform it of relevant law and mechanism being used to increase the prices of petroleum products.

A two-judge bench hea­ded by Justice Mohammad Iqbal Kalhoro also asked the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) and respondents as well as an assistant attorney general to ensure that they must file comments till Oct 25 on a set of petitions challenging the hike in petroleum products made in 2019.

It directed the official respondents and the law officer to submit specific comments detailing the formula and the relevant law applied for making increase in the price of petroleum products.

The bench also asked them to file the procedure, if any, adopted for such a purpose and whether there was a committee that made such decision, and if so what basis and structure being followed for such decision and how much levy was imposed or could be imposed per litre as per law.

The petitioners submitted that the government was competent to impose taxes on the public but subject to approval of the parliament by way of an act/law, but it in violation of the constitutional scheme imposed a “mini-budget” in March 2019 and imposed taxes.

They further submitted that the official respondents increased the rates of petroleum products, which was unjust, arbitrary and in violation of many provision of the Constitution.

The petitioners sought directives for the respondents to place the formula for increase in prices of petroleum products before the parliament for approval as they argued that such an increase on the sole discretion of the government had no legal sanctity.

Published in Dawn, October 13th, 2021

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