Pakistan News

Sindh govt moves SC against annulment of LG law amendment

Sindh govt moves SC against annulment of LG law amendment

ISLAMABAD: The Sindh government on Wednesday lamented before the Supreme Court that the Sindh Local Government Act (SLGA) in its present form had virtually eliminated the representation of women and youth on reserved seats.

“The Sindh High Court (SHC) has held all the amendments made through the Sindh Local Government (Third Amendment) Act, 2016, ultra vires, without any prayer or arguments and thus done away with the role of women and youth in the elected bodies at the lowest tier,” the provincial government’s counsel, Farooq H Naek, told a three-member SC bench.

The SC bench, headed by Chief Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali, had taken up the provincial government’s appeal against the SHC’s Feb 10 verdict on the petitions of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement and the PML-F. In its verdict, the SHC had declared as void the recent amendments to the local government law, whereby secret balloting was replaced with a show of hands to elect mayors, deputy mayors and other local government representatives in the province.

On Feb 17, the SC had stayed the elections in Sindh to elect mayor, deputy mayor, chairman, vice chairman and members on reserved seats in the recently elected provincial local governments.

“The entire high court order suffered from grave infirmity since no reason was given in the detailed judgment, especially for declaring the provisions relating to representation of women and youth as ultra vires of the constitution,” said Mr Naek.

Through the third amendment in the law, women’s representation on reserved seats was increased from 22 to 33 per cent, but the high court declared it ultra vires, he lamented. The high court order is virtually a copy paste of the relief sought by the petitioners, the counsel argued, adding that the SHC had even directed the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to conduct the elections for mayors and deputy mayors through secret balloting.

During the proceedings, Dr Farogh Nase­­em, who represented the MQM, lamented that though the local government elections were held in Aug 2015, the final phase of the exercise had still not been concluded because every other day, the government came up with one or more amendments.

On this, the chief justice observed that the court realised the nature of the case which was why it was being given top priority. The hearing was, however, postponed for Monday.

In its petition, the Sindh government had argued that the provincial autonomy desired by the people of Pakistan and reflected in the 18th Amendment envisaged strengthening of the provincial legislature and executive authorities.

Thus the amendment in the SLGA was made with the intention of conducting the elections in a transparent manner in a bid to avoid corrupt practices which is the mandate of Article 219 of the Constitution, the petition argued.

No question of public importance was involved in the facts and circumstances of the petitions moved by the MQM and PML-F before the high court, the Sindh government’s petition said, adding that the high court decided the petitions without jurisdiction.

Published in Dawn, March 31st, 2016

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