PESHAWAR: Mardan city mayor Himayatullah Mayar has moved the Peshawar High Court requesting it to declare unconstitutional the recent amendments to the provincial local government law, especially the provisions related to the powers of local body heads.

While challenging the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Local Government (Amendment) Act, 2022, which was enacted by the government early this month, the petitioner also sought the suspension of action on the impugned changes to the law until the final disposal of the case as an interim relief.

While the KP Local Government Act, 2013, clearly spelled out the powers and functions of the mayors of city councils and the chairmen of tehsil as well as village and neighbourhood councils in the province, the recent amendments to the law removed them and declared that the local body heads would exercise and perform such powers and functions as prescribed by the rules.

The respondents in the petition are the provincial government through the chief secretary and the secretaries of local government, law and parliamentary affairs departments.

Insists changes in conflict with Constitution

The petitioner, whose lawyer is Babar Khan Yousafzai, said that the elections of the petitioner and other mayors and chairmen of local councils were conducted under the KP Local Government Act (KPLGA), 2013, which defined the mode of the local government and the powers of the elected mayors and chairmen.

The petitioner said that Section 23(A) of the KPLGA defined the powers and functions of the chairmen of the tehsil local government, whereas Section 25(A) provided the powers and functions of the mayor, city local government.

He said that the provincial government had introduced the KP Local Government (Amendment) Bill in the assembly with mala fide intentions, while the house passed it on June 3 and it came into force on June 8.

Mr Mayar complained about the recent changes to sections 23A and 25A of the KPLGA, which, he said, provided powers and functions of the chairmen and mayors, respectively.

He said that those amendments led to the removal of the local body heads’ powers and functions from law and their mention in the rules.

The petitioner contended that some other changes had also been made in the law to increase the powers of the provincial government in relation to the elected local councils, whereas the powers of local governments had been curtailed.

He said that the elected representatives of local councils had contested polls under the KPLGA, which clearly defined their powers and taking away those powers and functions in the amended Act was in clear violation of the Constitution.

Mr Mayar said that under Article 140-A of the Constitution each province should by law establish a local government system and devolve political, administrative and financial responsibility and authority to the elected representatives of the local governments.

He said that articles 32 and 37(i) of the Constitution were also aimed at strengthening the local government system.

Referring to a Supreme Court judgement, Mr Mayar said that the court had endorsed the provisions of the Constitution’s articles 37(i), 32 and 140-A as a fundamental and constitutional right.

He contended that such ‘illegal’ acts of the respondents were deprived the people of their due right to be represented by their elected representatives.

Published in Dawn, June 30th, 2022

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