ISLAMABAD – The Supreme Court Pakistan on Monday backed up its ruling on the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) petition to overturn various provisions of the Sindh Local Government Act, 2013.
The three-member high court chaired by Pakistan Supreme Court Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed conducts petition hearings seeking empowerment and autonomy for Local Government institutions in Sindh, particularly Karachi.
In this regard, Asad Umar, the Federal Minister of Planning and Development, also submitted a similar petition under Article 184 (3) of the Constitution.
During the trial, Judge Ijazul Ahsan said that the court had decided that the application of Article 140-A was necessary and had to be carried out through statutory regulations in all provinces.
MQM adviser, Salahuddin Ahmed Advocate, argued that control of the Karachi building, water supply, local transport and solid waste, among other local agencies, was under the control of the Sindh government. He added that local governments have full responsibility for maintaining parks and libraries.
The advisor further stated that public facilities, including parks and playgrounds, are under the responsibility of Karachi Metropolitan Corporation. However, he continued, KMC did not have authority over all of Karachi.
The chief justice of the Supreme Court said that he had seen the Mayor of Karachi inaugurate public transportation many times. However, the bus disappeared from the road a day after the inauguration.
Supreme Court Justice Gulzar Ahmed said that if the Mayor of Karachi is unable to deliver, his powers should be withdrawn. The high court ruled that they would provide guidance to local bodies.
Judge Ijazul Ahsan said that the spirit of Article 140A is the decentralization of power and not to hold it in multiple hands. He also said that they are looking for a balance and want to encourage LGs to function, because around the world LGs’ performance has been extraordinary.
He observed that if the hands of LG representatives were tied, they would ultimately fail. He said the Sindh government had made the Pemda in Karachi toothless.
Advocate General Sindh Salman Thalib-ud-Din said that the constitution does not explain the extent and recognizes the strength of the provincial government and that is a political reality. He added that all provinces have different problems.
Responding to Judge Ijaz’s question, AG Sindh replied that the Department of Building and City Supervision, Water and Disposal had to stay with those who were mandated by the community. He said that the prayer in the MQM petition is not a prayer but a wish list.
The panel of judges ordered AGP Khalid Jawed, AG Sindh Thalib-ud Din and MQM advisers to submit a synopsis of their arguments within a week.