KARACHI: A provincial law officer has informed the Sindh High Court that a select committee comprising members of the provincial assembly from both sides of the aisle, constituted to amend the Sindh Local Government Act 2021, has recommended postponement of the upcoming local government elections in Sindh in order to make necessary amendments to the law.
The Election Commission of Pakistan has already announced the schedule for LG elections and polling for the first phase in four divisions of Sindh — Larkana, Sukkur, Shaheed Benazirabad and Mirpurkhas — is to be held on June 26 and in the polling for the second phase would be held in Karachi and Hyderabad divisions on July 24.
MQM-P convener Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui along with other party leaders had filed a petition in the SHC in February against the delimitation process for local government elections in the province stating that the delimitation and town demarcation were made on ethnic and linguistic basis and with mala fide considerations.
A provincial law officer has submitted before a division bench of the SHC the minutes of the select committee’s meeting held on May 23 in the Sindh Assembly building.
The bench headed by Justice Muhammad Junaid Ghaffar took the document on record and fixed June 20 as the date of next hearing.
According to the minutes, the select committee was chaired by LG Minister Nasir Hussain Shah and attended by lawmakers of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party as well as all opposition parties including the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, MQM-P, Grand Democratic Alliance and Jamaat-i-Islami.
The committee in its recommendation said: “The Committee after prolonged deliberations, unanimously decided that without carrying out necessary reforms in the law, the elections would not serve the purpose, therefore for all practical purposes it will be in the fitness of things that the elections may be held after necessary reforms in the law.
“In this regard, the Select Committee decided that the minutes of the meeting and the decision of Select Committee should be brought to the knowledge of the Honourable Court through the Advocate General Sindh,” it said.
The minutes further stated that the select committee had been constituted to amend the Local Government Act 2013 and to bring the same in line with Article 140-A of the Constitution.
The PPP-led Sindh government had made amendments to the Sindh LG law last year, but all the major opposition parties had protested against such amendments and also petitioned the SHC.
They contended that the provincial government had taken over various prime municipal functions of the local governments during the last two decades while the recent amendments were also made to further remove the revenue generation opportunities from local governments in violation of several constitutional provisions and rulings of the apex courts.
In February, the Supreme Court handed down a judgement on the petition of the MQM-P and emphasised on Article 140-A of the Constitution to set up LGs possessing meaningful authority.
Published in Dawn, June 8th, 2022