Sindh govt put on notice over JI plea against amendments

Jamal Khurshid
Friday, Jan 14, 2022

The Sindh High Court issued notices on Thursday to the advocate general, the chief secretary and others on a petition of the Jamaat-e-Islami that challenged certain amendments in the local government law.

JI Karachi emir Hafiz Naeemur Rehman submitted in petition that the government had introduced certain amendments in the Local Government Act in contravention of Article 140-A of the constitution.

He said the provincial government had usurped several departments of the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation, including health, hospitals and education, in the garb of new amendments in sheer violation of the constitution, which emphasised the devolution of powers to local governments.

The petitioner said numerous vital functions relating to health and education had been withdrawn wholesale from the ambit of local governments without any rational or justification. He said the withdrawal of medical colleges and teaching hospitals from the KMC’s management was a key example of the patently arbitrary and mala fide nature of the amendments made to the law.

Rehman argued that the impugned amendments had unlawfully curtailed the election commission’s delimitation powers, saying that such restrictions were arbitrary and in violation of Article 140-A of the constitution.

He submitted that the amendments had inexplicably bound the elections commission to conform to a delimitation exercise carried out more than six years ago, which preceded even the latest census conducted in 2017. He said the only conceivable motive for such a restriction appeared to be in pursuance of gerrymandering or some other scheme designed to distort the process of the fair local bodies elections.

The JI leader said Karachi has a population of more than 30 million and needs a proper and empowered metropolitan corporation instead of a powerless city district government. The court was requested to declare amendments to sections 14 (I)(a) 14 (3)

(b) and (c), 14(III)(d)(I) to (III) and 17 (a) (b) of the Sindh Local Government Amendments Act as unconstitutional.