ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Monday reserved its verdict over petitions of the MQM and the PTI seeking devolution of powers to the local councils from the Sindh government.
A bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed heard constitutional petitions over the matter. The court asked the counsels of the Government of Sindh and the MQM to submit their written arguments in a week. “Karachi was, is and will remain part of Sindh,” Attorney General Khalid Javed in his arguments said. “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 left to the provincial legislature to decide upon but in Sindh the matter could not be left to the provincial assembly to take decision,” 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 percent urban representation is essential in such legislation,” the Attorney General argued. Earlier, MQM counsel argued before the court that the building control, water supply and sewerage departments should remain in the hands of local government institutions.
Justice Ijazul Ahsan, a member of three judges special bench, remarked that the court could not go in such minute details. “The court has declared that implementation of Article 140-A is compulsory.” The province has to implement Article 140-A with legislation, he said. “No municipal department such as the water board, building control have been in the control of the city’s mayor,” the counsel 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 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. NNI