MQM challenges PPP-backed Sindh LG law in SC


The Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) on Monday challenged the Sindh Local Government Act (SLGA) 2013 in the Karachi registry of the Supreme Court.
Naming chief secretary, secretary law, secretary local government department, speaker and secretary of Sindh Assembly as respondents, the petition said the newly legislated law contradicts Article 104-A of the constitution.
The issue of local government system in the province has widened the rift between Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and MQM – the former coalition partners in Sindh and at the Centre.
The SLGA-2013 was passed into law by the Sindh Assembly on August 19 amid fierce opposition by the MQM.
The ruling PPP had initially supported the MQM-backed Sindh People’s Local Government Act (SPLGA), however, later nullified it saying “it was against aspirations of the people of the province”.
Referring to the SPLGA, the MQM said that the party was not content with the local government law introduced during Gen Pervez Musharraf’s rule and it wanted it to be made more progressive and inclusive. It also declares the current SLGA as facsimile of the SLGO of 1979, which had been introduced by Gen Ziaul Haq. The party is of the opinion that the law might sharpen the urban-rural divide in Sindh.
The PPP however, enjoys support of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, PML-F and Sindhi nationalists over the issue.
The petition filed on Monday said that unless political, administrative, and financial powers are delegated to lower level, local government system will be nothing but sheer autocracy.
The MQM, through the petition, spelled out the departments that are mandatory to be devolved to the local government. They include municipal services, land, law and order, transport, trade and commerce, health, education, administration and service, financial matters, provincial financial committees, taxation, and department-wise allocation of budget.
The petition said the SLGA was void as it did not provide for devolution and decentralisation of essential departments as suggested in Article 140-A of the constitution. The party prayed the court to declare the SLGA-2013 as unconstitutional and direct respondents to legislate and pass local government law in accordance with the country’s constitution.