KARACHI: The Jamaat-i-Islami on Monday approached the Sindh High Court against the recently passed Sindh Local Government Act (SLGA) 2021.

JI-Karachi chief Hafiz Naeem-ur-Rehman, through his lawyer, filed a petition stating that the new law was in violation of various provisions of the Constitution.

Citing the Sindh chief secretary and local government secretary as respondents, the petitioner while submitting that the SLGA 2021 was passed on Dec 11 sought a permanent restraining order for respondents from giving any effect or acting in pursuance of the impugned amendments.

Women workers join protest sit-in outside PA

The petitioner stated that the impugned amendments were made only to seize the authority of local government regarding health, education, control of land owned by municipal bodies and other fundamental functions.

The crucial powers of revenue generation had also been withheld from the local governments resulting in the weakening of its institutions, he further argued.

The JI leader maintained that any purported concern about lack of capacity of local governments must be evaluated in the light of provincial government’s own deliberate role in undermining such capacities and therefore, the obligation lied with the Sindh government to restore and replenish local governments by empowering them instead of further reducing their financial autonomy.

The petitioner pleaded to declare the impugned amendments to several sub-sections of Sections 14 and 17 of the SLGA as unconstitutional and void as the same had unlawfully abridged vital local government functions in violation, inter alia, of Article 140-A of the Constitution.

He also asked the court to further restrain the respondents and all persons acting on their behalf or authority from withholding any financial provisions or administrative support from local government authorities concerned in pursuance of the impugned amendments.

While talking to media persons after filing the petition, Hafiz Naeem said that the impugned legislation was in conflict with the Constitution.

He said that once building control authority, educational institutions, Karachi Development Authority and medical facilities were under the administrative control of the Karachi city government, but the provincial government of Pakistan Peoples Party had taken control of all these institutions “due to ethnic reasons”.

He also lashed out at the PPP government for not constituting the provincial finance commission and encroaching upon the financial resources of the metropolis.

While referring to a sit-in being staged by his party outside the provincial assembly for the past three days, he said that holding demonstrations and approaching courts were their constitutional and democratic rights.

Before the JI petition, the Pak Sarzameen Party, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan had also filed petitions in the SHC against the new law.

Women workers join JI sit-in

Hundreds of women workers and supporters on Monday joined the JI’s sit-in outside the Sindh Assembly, where a large number of people continued their protest for the fourth consecutive day against the LG law.

The women workers arrived the place of sit-in while carrying placards and posters and chanting slogans. They were led by JI women wing chief Asma Safeer.

Hafiz Naeem said that he had been approached by the Sindh government for talks on the issue.

“We are always open to talks,” he said. “But we want solid, fruitful and result-oriented talks. We are not here only for media coverage and making headlines. Our protest is based on a serious note and we are forced to take this step after the Sindh government denied paying any heed to our requests.”

“Now if it wants to hold talks, it should remember that we are only interested in serious and result-oriented talks. Otherwise it should not take any pain for a fake exercise. We are here and not going anywhere,” he said.

Published in Dawn, January 4th, 2022

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