Dr Raheela Magsi, a former district nazim and now president of the Sindh Local Council Association, has filed a constitutional petition against the delay in local body elections.
The petitioner has challenged the veracity of a number of ordinances and amendment acts as she argues they legalised a delay in the local government polls. Magsi named the Sindh chief secretary, Sindh governor and the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) in her petition.
She argues that the Sindh Local Government Fifth Amendment Act dated September 28, 2010 was illegal. The fact that the CEC failed to conduct elections after four years had lapsed is contrary to the provisions 150 (b) and 159 (1) of the amendment act, which enjoins the local government to hold office until the successor begins its term. Section 159 (1) in particular aims at ensuring that non-elected representatives do not hold office even for a single day as it would be a violation of Articles 32 and 140-A of the Constitution.
Magsi’s lawyer asked the court to declare the fifth amendment to the Sindh Local Government Ordinance Act 1 and 2, and ordinances 1 to 4 as ‘ultra vires’ (unconstitutional) of the Constitution. He appealed to the court to order the CEC to conduct elections immediately and direct the parties named in the case to remove administrators and reinstate the previous elected representatives to hold office until new elections are held.
On Tuesday, when the petition came up for hearing, standing counsel Rizwan Doodani and Sindh Additional Advocate-General Sarwar Khan sought time to file comments.
The division bench comprising Chief Justice Mushir Alam and Justice Syed Hasan Azhar Rizvi, allowed the request and adjourned till May 4. It directed all sides to complete formalities, including counter affidavits and rejoinders, so that the case becomes ripe for hearing.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 6th, 2011.