The Supreme Court (SC) on Wednesday overruled the Registrar office’s objection and admitted Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf's (PTI) petition seeking directions for the Sindh government to devolve powers to local government (LG) institutions of the province in view of Article 140-A as well as Articles 3, 4, 9, 14, 16, 17, 19, 19A and 25 of the Constitution.
A three-member special bench led by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Gulzar Ahmed issued a notice to all respondents and notices were also issued to the attorney general for Pakistan and the advocate general Sindh for the court's assistance.
During the hearing, the bench took up MQM’s petition on the same subject wherein party’s counsel Salahuddin Ahmed stated that local government is a part of the state in view of Article-7 of the Constitution.
“All political parties stated in their manifesto that power would be transferred to the grass route level,” Ahmed stated. “A lot of LG government functions were taken away. Sections 74 and 75 of Sindh Local Government Act are ultra-varies of the Constitution.”
A member of the bench, Justice Ijaz ul Ahsan, stressed that whenever political parties are in power, they want to centralise the government but when these parties are out of power, they demand de-centralisation.
The judge asked the counsel to assist the bench with the workings of LG systems around the world.
Justice Ahsan further asked as to whether the petitioner party, MQM-P, has debated the issue, to which the counsel replied that they objected the legislation but were in minority.
However, the CJP asked what the party had done for the betterment of people in Karachi.
“People were dying due to recent rains,” the CJP said. “KMC employees were not around and they were sitting in their houses. Rs5 billion is being spent on their salaries. Where were the sanitary workers during rains?”
The CJP further observed that the system always worked poorly in Karachi and noted that there was also an issue of coordination between the provincial government and the LG system.
Justice Ijaz noted that parties make local body laws which suit their purposes.
“If the provincial governments are sincere, then they should have a strong LG system wherein power should be structured,” he said expressing dissatisfaction over local government laws in Sindh.
The apex bench directed MQM's counsel to submit a synopsis of formulations and adjourned the hearing of the case till the second week of October.