KARACHI: The Sindh High Court on Thursday issued notices to the provincial authorities on a petition filed by the Jamaat-i-Islami against the recent amendments to the Sindh Local Government Act (SLGA) 2021.

A two-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Ahmed Ali M. Shaikh put the chief secretary, local government secretary and other respondents as well as the provincial law officer on notice for a date to be later fixed by the court’s office.

JI Karachi chief Hafiz Naeem-ur-Rehman filed the petition challenging the SLGA 2021 stating that it was in violation of various constitutional provisions.

The petitioner submitted that the law was passed on Dec 11, 2021, and sought a permanent restraining order for respondents from giving any effect or acting in pursuance of impugned amendments.

He submitted that the impugned amendments were made only to seize the authority of local governments 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 bodies 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 bodies 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 Act as unconstitutional and void as the same had unlawfully abridged vital local government functions in violation, inter alia, of Article 140-A.

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 the local government authorities concerned in pursuance of the impugned amendments.

Illegal construction

Another bench on Thursday directed the director-general of the Sindh Building Control Authority (SBCA) to submit the names of all delinquent officials of the authority responsible for allowing illegal constructions in a Gulshan-i-Iqbal locality.

A two-judge bench headed by Justice Syed Hasan Azhar Rizvi asked the SBCA chief to ensure that such report must be placed within 15 days.

At the outset of the hearing, the lawyer for SBCA contended that in the light of an earlier order of SHC, the process to demolish illegal portions of a building located in Block 13-D, Gulshan-i-Iqbal began and the occupants had been put on notice to vacate the illegally-constructed units.

The bench expressed displeasure over the SBCA in taking too much time to implement the court order issued in November.

Published in Dawn, January 14th, 2022

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