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ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC), Monday, adjourned the hearing in a petition challenging the Islamabad Local Government Ordinance 2021 without any proceedings.

A single bench of Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani heard the petition moved by an association of over 1,300 officers and servants of the CDA who are citizens of Pakistan and hail from all the various federating units of the country.

However, no proceedings could be held in this matter due to non-availability of Justice Kayani. Now, the court has fixed February 10 as the next date for the hearing of the case.

Previously, the IHC bench had directed the federation to submit its reply. It also added that the federation should assist and satisfy the court that what was the emergency situation, which led the government to promulgate the said Ordinance instead of holding the debate on this issue in the parliament.

The petitioners filed the petition through their counsel Umer Ijaz Gilani advocate and cited the federation of Pakistan through secretary Ministry of Law, president of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, and the Election Commission of Pakistan through its secretary as respondents.

In the petition, the petitioner assailed the vires of Islamabad Local Government Ordinance, 2021 promulgated by the president of Pakistan on 28 November 2021.

They adopted that this legislation, which has serious consequence for the provinces of Pakistan, should have been placed before and debated in the Senate of Pakistan and its implications both in terms of assets, finances and job prospects for the federating units should have been debated.

They added that not doing so violates the principle of federalism, which is enshrined the Pakistani constitution. Besides, the legislation envisages a constitutional absurdity whereby, an entire tier of the federation would be elected to office upon the basis of a mere temporary law.

They maintained, “Besides, it falls short of the requirements of Article 140, since it cannot possibly provide tenure protection to the elected local government. It is patently in excess of the mandate of Article 89 of the Constitution which is limited to emergency legislation. Last but not the least it is unconstitutional because it jeopardizes the vested service-related rights of the Petitioner’s members, which amounts to violation of the Articles 18 and 23.”

The petitioners’ counsel contended that through Section 184 of the Impugned Ordinance, the Islamabad Local Government Act, 2013, an enactment promulgated by the Parliament of Pakistan in pursuance of the directions of the Supreme Court, has been repealed.

Gilani argued that the Ordinance brings about major legislative overhauls of the electoral procedure regime related to local government in Islamabad. He added that amongst the major changes it brings about are: direct election of Mayor; a major reduction in the scope of the powers and responsibilities of the CDA and Chief Commissioner’s Office and transfer of their assets and employees to the Islamabad Municipal Corporation.

Therefore, he prayed before the court to declare that the impugned Ordinance is illegal, unconstitutional and of no legal effect and set aside the same.

He also requested to declare that an entire tier of the Federation of Pakistan, which is required by Article 140A to be set up cannot be erected on the foundation of a mere temporary law; rather, it requires the enactment of a permanent law by the competent legislature.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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