Local government: Governor can’t restore a repealed ordinance, argues petition

Lawyer challenges acts to bring back 2001 system.

Sarfaraz Memon August 13, 2011

SUKKUR: As the governor, who represents the federation, cannot restore a repealed ordinance, the decision to bring back the local government ordinance of 2001 is illegal, argued a lawyer who wants these moves undone.

On Friday, the Sindh High Court bench in Sukkur issued notice to the additional advocate general of Sindh, directing him to appear before the court on August 16, in the petition that is against the revival of the Local Government ordinance 2001.

The constitutional petition was filed by advocate Ghulam Shabbir Shar, who is a former general secretary of the Sindh High Court Bar Association. He has named several federal and provincial secretaries among others to challenge the promulgation of an ordinance by the governor of Sindh, reviving the system throughout the province.

The petitioner stated before the court that after the promulgation of the ordinances to restore the old local government system, the Sindh government issued a notification, reviving five divisions of the province. The Sindh revenue secretary then issued a notification on August 8, restoring Karachi division as one city district.

Earlier on, the governor promulgated three ordinances, for the revival of the commissionerate system by repealing the local government system 2001 and the same bills were presented in the Sindh Assembly by Law Minister Ayaz Soomro. They were passed by a majority. All three bills were handed over to the governor who signed them.

The Sindh administration first restored the local government system 2001 in Karachi and Hyderabad, but after strong opposition from people, promulgated the local government system of 2001 overnight throughout Sindh. The petitioner argued that the governor cannot restore the repealed ordinance, as it is in complete derogation of the law and constitution, as it was repealed by the Sindh Assembly through an act of parliament.

The governor, who is a representative of the federation, has no authority under the law to rescind the legislation of an elected assembly of the province. The governor must instead withdraw the ordinance, repealing various provisions of the Sindh land revenue act of 1967, which established a system of governance based on commissioners and deputy commissioners.

Shar argued that the governor has no locus standi to overcome parliament, which recently passed a law to restore the previous local government system, by abolishing the entire 2001 local government ordinance. The governor’s act is hit by Articles 8 and 25 of the constitution.

The petitioner requested the court to declare the governor’s act as anti-public, illegal, malafide, ineffective and thus liable to be set aside. He prayed the court to grant an ad-interim injunction, restraining the respondents from tabling the ordinance in the Sindh Assembly in the shape of bills till a final decision is made on this petition.

Justice Mohammad Ali Mazhar ordered the notices to be issued.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 13th, 2011.