ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Monday reserved its verdict over petitions of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) against the Sindh Local Government Act (SLGA).
A three-member bench, headed by Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed, heard the constitutional petitions over the matter and asked the counsels of the government of Sindh and petitioners to submit written statements within a week.
Justice Ijazul Ahsan maintained that the court had ruled that the implementation of Article 140-A is necessary and must be implemented through legislation across all provinces.
MQM’s counsel, Salahuddin Ahmed, argued that Karachi’s building control, water supply, local transport and solid waste, among other local bodies, are under the control of the Sindh government, adding that the local government has the sole responsibility for the maintenance of parks and libraries.
The counsel further stated that civic amenities, including parks and playgrounds, fall under the responsibility of the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation. “However, KMC does not have authority over the whole of Karachi.”
“Karachi was, is and will remain part of Sindh,” said Attorney General Khalid Javed in his arguments. “Several problems could be resolved with an empowered local government,” the government lawyer said.
“I have appeared before the court on the court’s notice and not as a lawyer of any party,” the AG said. “I think the court should itself hear this matter. The court could issue instructions to provincial governments,” Khalid Javed argued.
“The issue of local councils powers is serious in Sindh. Usually, such matters are left to the provincial legislature to decide upon but in Sindh, the matter could not be left to the provincial assembly to take decision,” the federal lawyer said.
“I don’t suggest abrogation of any law, the court should declare that the majority party would not take back the local councils’ powers. The court can rule that the consensus of 25 per cent urban representation is essential in such legislation,” the attorney general argued.
“No municipal department such as the water board, building control have been in the control of the city’s mayor,” the council said.
“Mayor Karachi has been witnessed inaugurating public transport several times but these buses vanish the very next day from roads,” Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed remarked. “It seems mayor Karachi has failed to deliver, so the powers were taken back from him. In view of the performance, are you entitled to demand these powers?” the Chief Justice asked the MQM lawyer.
“The Supreme Court has interpreted Article 140-A and the powers will be delivered by the Sindh government and not the court,” the top judge remarked. “If the court could exercise the authority of the provincial government? The powers can be taken from the government with negotiations,” the CJP maintained.
The top court decided that it will provide local bodies with guidelines.