HYDERABAD: The naming of roads, parks, educational and health facilities, government buildings and other places after politicians or influential people in the province has earned an adverse judgment from Sindh High Court (SHC). The Hyderabad circuit bench ordered the provincial government on Wednesday to remove names of all such individuals, politicians, feudal lords and the ruling elite and gave two months to complete the task.
The order came in a petition filed by advocate Sajjad Ahmed Chandio, president of Awami Tehreek. He said before the court that hundreds of institutions, parks, roads and other provincial and local government built structures carry names of politicians and their family members.
“The ruling class has started the practice of naming public places after their names and those of their family members,” he contended. Chandio gave references of how such places are denominated in the developed world, emphasising that the Sindh government does not follow any standardised criterion in this regard.
“Sudden changes in the names of roads, streets and other places also deprive people of a sense of history.” Chandio maintained that the SHC’s September 11, 2017, order in the same petition has not been implemented so far.
In 2017, the SHC had ordered the provincial government to follow the relevant law of Punjab province. “Meanwhile, the criterion as referred in Punjab Local Councils’ Rules, 1981, shall be followed and no street, road, college or institute shall be named after persons who have not contributed for the welfare of society in any field.”
The rules referred to in that order only allow denominating a place on the name of Pakistan’s founder, a freedom movement leader, a deceased national personality, a martyred soldier, head of a foreign friendly country or a notable Muslim character from history. The rules bar naming a place after an elected representative and a public servant.
The bench comprising Justice Salahuddin Panhwar and Justice Adnan Iqbal Chaudhry ordered the provincial government to keep only the names of important public figures in history or of those who have made a mark in literature or other realms of public service.
During the last hearing, the SHC had ordered Sindh chief secretary as well as all divisional commissioners to submit a report detailing such places and the criteria set for naming them. The bench had also directed the provincial government to implement its September 11, 2017, order.
Chandio’s petition was disposed of with the order of removal of names of elected representatives, public servants, feudal lords and family members of such people with the submission of compliance report within two months.
In an identical petition which was heard along with Chandio’s case, the SHC ordered stay against the construction of a fort-styled gate which leads towards the village of an elected representative and is also named after him. Advocate Ali Palh pleaded that the gate is being built at the cost of Rs5 million and the local government is footing the bill. SHC ordered Hyderabad commissioner to conduct an inquiry and refer the matter to the Sindh Anti-Corruption Establishment if irregularities are unearthed.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 25th, 2019.