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Friday, May 24, 2024

SC to take up petition on local government empowerment: Wasim Akhtar

The petition of former mayor Karachi, Wasim Akhtar, filed under Article 140-A of the Constitution will be taken up by the Supreme Court on 23rd September, as per a tweet posted by the mayor on Monday

The petition of former mayor Karachi, Wasim Akhtar, filed under Article 140-A of the Constitution will be taken up by the Supreme Court on 23rd September, as per a tweet posted by the mayor on Monday. The Prime Minister of Pakistan has also been made co-petitioner in the case. 

The Supreme Court will take up a set of petitions on Wednesday, including the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan’s (MQM) plea seeking empowerment and autonomy of local government institutions in Sindh.

In its petition, the MQM-P had re­­quested the Supreme Court to wrest the municipal control of Karachi back under its elected mayor Waseem Akhtar, who has now completed his term.

In addition, the MQM-P also requested the court to order the authorities concerned to release Rs29.36 billion as the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation’s (KMC) share of Octroi Zila Tax along with mark-up, etc.

Wasim Akhtar waited three years for his petition to be heard

The former mayor reached the Supreme Court in 2017 with a petition seeking empowerment of local bodies in Sindh. Talking to GVS, Karachi mayor said that the case of seeking enforcement of Article 140-A of the Constitution, was an important cause for him.

He said the local governments in Sindh have been deprived of powers under Article 140-A. The provincial government has kept all powers – while Karachi and other parts of Sindh have been in a miserable condition, he said.

“My petition over the implementation of Article 140A both in letter and spirit, is still pending with the Supreme for three years. I want, whoever the mayor may be, it should be a strong third-tier local government that manages this – which is the case in most metropolitan cities around the world. It is not the function of the federal government or provincial government.” Said the former mayor to GVS.

Read More: ‘Karachi needs permanent solutions’: An interview with former mayor Waseem Akhtar

SC to take up set of petitions on Wednesday 

In addition to the MQM-P’s petition, a three-judge SC bench comprising Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed, Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan and Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel will take up petitions, which were moved by Asad Ali Khan. The same is seeking for the Punjab Local Government Act 2019 to be declared null and void as being in contravention with Article 140-A of the Constitution.

Petition by Daniyal Aziz, who has pleaded that the Punjab Local Government Act 2019 and the Punjab Village Punchayats and Neighbourhood Councils Act 2019 are ultra vires to the Constitution, and a PTI plea seeking a declaration that Sections 74 and 75 of the Sindh Local Government Act 2013 and Section 18 of the Sindh Building Control Ordinance be declared against the Constitution, will also be taken up.

Read More: Will new Karachi mayor be the “Mayor” Karachi needs?

Wasim Akhtar: Karachi’s troubled Mayor? 

When Wasim Akhtar had taken over as mayor of Karachi in August 2016, he had exclaimed: “The city of lights has suffered already, I will not let it suffer any more,”. But four years later he left that office in tears frustrated with the powerless position he had to serve in.

Karachi is Pakistan’s largest metropolis with an estimated population of more than 25 million, yet its last census shows its population to be around 15 million. And here in lies the first challenge on the road towards a new mayor.

Will Sindh be able to hold LG elections in time?  

The term of the elected local government representatives in the Sindh province, including Karachi’s Mayor Wasim Akhtar, expired on Aug 29. They left the offices after completing their four-year constitutional terms.

Administrators are now to be appointed by the provincial government in place of the elected local government representatives. These administrators will assume responsibilities as executive heads of the local government agencies across the province till the local government elections take place in Sindh.

As per the law, such elections are supposed to be held before October 30th – but almost all political analysts are openly expressing doubts that such elections will be held in stipulated time.