SHC seeks replies on plea against Charities Act

NGOs claim the act violates fundamental rights, move court to strike it down


Our Correspondent August 12, 2020
A Reuters file image

KARACHI:

The Sindh High Court issued on Tuesday notices to the relevant authorities, seeking their replies on a plea challenging the Sindh Charities Registration and Regulation Act, 2019.

A two-member bench, comprising Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar and Justice Yousuf Ali Sayeed, was hearing the petition, which termed the act ultra vires and a violation of fundamental rights as listed in the Constitution. The petition moved the court to strike down the act.

The petition specifically mentioned Sections 3, 9, 22, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28 and 29 of the Act as being in violation of fundamental rights, deeming them "unjustified" and having the potential to be "used as a tool for oppression and discrimination."

It further prayed the court to rule that the economic affairs division had no statutory backing and lawful authority to frame, regulate and enact policies pertaining to NGOs and to declare the NGOs Policy, 2013, null and void, as it violates Articles 4, 10-A, 17 and 25 of the Constitution. The petition entreated the court to restrict the departments nominated as respondents in the plea, as well as their employees and representatives, from implementing any provision of the NGOs Policy, 2013 and the Sindh Charities Registration and Regulation Act, 2019 against the petitioners. It further moved the court to bar the respondents from taking any other action against the petitioners.

After hearing the plea, the court issued notices to the respondents, including the federal government, Sindh government, directorate of social welfare, the Ministry of Law and Justice, economics affairs division, the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Charities Registration and Regulation Commission and State Bank of Pakistan, seeking their replies on the petition at the next hearing on August 26.

The petitioners include the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education & Research, Aurat Publication and Information Service Foundation, Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Workers Education and Resource Organisation, National Organisation for Working Communities, Urban Resource Centre, Rasheed Razvi Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights, South Asia Partnership Pakistan and Shirkat Gah - Women's Resource Centre.

 

Published in The Express Tribune, August 12th, 2020.

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