PTI challenges new local government bill in SHC

Published December 4, 2021
PTI leader Haleem Adil Sheikh, who is also the leader of the opposition in the provincial assembly, addresses a press conference at the Sindh Assembly. — APP/File
PTI leader Haleem Adil Sheikh, who is also the leader of the opposition in the provincial assembly, addresses a press conference at the Sindh Assembly. — APP/File

KARACHI: The opposition Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf on Friday filed a petition in the Sindh High Court challenging the recently passed Sindh Local Government (Amendment) Bill 2021.

PTI leaders Haleem Adil Sheikh, who is also the leader of the opposition in the provincial assembly, and MPA Khurram Sher Zaman, through their counsel, moved the SHC stating that the impugned bill passed to make amendments in the Sindh Local Government Act (SLGA), 2013 was in violation of several constitutional provisions and against the fundamental rights of citizens.

The petitioners asserted that the bill would not only usurp the authority of local governments about health, education, issuance of various certificates, control of land owned by municipal bodies and other fundamental functions but would also introduce dubious amendments paving the way for horse-trading in the election of unelected persons as mayor or chairman.

They cited the chief secretary, provincial secretaries of local government and law departments, speaker and secretary of the Sindh Assembly and chief election commissioner as respondents.

They submitted in the petition that the amendment bill was in violation of Articles 7, 8, 17, 32 and 140-A of the Constitution and pleaded to declare it as null and void and restrain the respondents from enactment and promulgation of the bill as an Act.

Speaking to media persons on the SHC premises, the PTI leaders were of the view that the Sindh government had intended to deprive the local governments of powers, responsibilities and functions guaranteed under the Constitution as Article 140-A required devolution of financial, administrative and political authority to the local government system.

However, they said that the provincial government had centralised all the powers instead of devolving the same to the third tier of the government and besides in violation of various constitutional provisions, they were of the opinion that the bill was also contradictory to laws against the spirit of democracy and an attempt to exert absolute authority of provincial government on local bodies in Sindh.

The PTI leaders maintained that the bill was passed in haste while suppressing rules which required providing a draft bill to elected members a couple of days before its introduction in the house and discussion in the standing committee concerned, but it was tabled and got approved within an hour.

While expressing concerns over introduction of secret balloting for the election of mayor and chairman, they said that it would open the door to horse-trading.

An identical petition was also filed by the Pak Sarzameen Party in the SHC a couple of days ago.

Published in Dawn, December 4th, 2021

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