The top court will take up on September 23 a constitutional petition seeking directions for the Sindh government to devolve powers to the local government 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.
The petition filed by the ruling PTI through its chairman, Imran Khan, and senior leader Asad Umar has challenged the Sindh Local Government Act (SLGA) adopted by the Sindh Assembly in August 2013. Advocate Ali Zafar will argue the petition on behalf of the ruling party.
A three-judge special bench led by Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed and comprising Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Mazhar Alam Miankhel will hear the case.
The PTI in its petition stated that Karachi is the largest city of Pakistan where people from all over the country come in search of employment opportunities and business.
“[However,] the ground reality is that the city of lights remains deprived of basic facilities and is plagued with several problems of serious kinds, majority of which remained unresolved for the past many years.”
It said municipal services are non-existent in the city. There are broken roads, severe water crisis, appalling sewerage system and heaps of garbage everywhere leading to ill health, diarrhea and various life threatening diseases.
“[In the city] health department and government hospitals are in a pathetic state, medical facilities are not available, education is not being provided, schools are non-existent and the living conditions are pathetic, unhygienic and inhumane.”
The party argued that the main reason for this situation is that local government institutions have not been allowed to be established in Sindh and the principle of Article 140-A of the Constitution, in which political, administrative and financial powers were to be devolved are not being implemented.
As a result, it said, millions of people of Karachi and other areas of Sindh are facing difficulties.
“To ensure a local body system in letter and spirit of the Article 140-A for solving these problems, is therefore the fundamental right of the people of Karachi, and in fact the entire Sindh, guaranteed under Articles 4, 9, 15, 18, 23, 24 and 25A of the Constitution," it added.
The petition requested the court to issue directions to the Sindh government to provide the funds to the local government of Karachi to effectively carry out its local body obligations for local governance and make the cities of Sindh, including Karachi, a better and more liveable place.
It also requested the special bench to declare the provisions of the laws which are contrary to Article 140-A of the Constitution without jurisdiction.
“The provincial government be directed to release all the dues to the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) including its share of Octroi Zila Tax (OZT) along with mark-up and additional mark-up,” it said.
The same special bench will also hear a petition filed by four former representatives of Punjab local government against dissolution of previous local bodies working under the Local Government Act 2013.
The petitioners have also challenged the enactment of Punjab Local Government Act 2019. Another special bench led by Justice Mushir Alam while hearing the same matter on July 12, issued notice to Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) and Punjab Advocate General for legal assistance.
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