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September 12, 2019

Amendment to LG Act


September 12, 2019

PHC puts on notice KP govt in petition

By Bureau report

PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court (PHC) on Wednesday put on notice Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government in a writ petition filed by opposition parties in the KP Assembly, challenging the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Local Government (Amendment) Act 2019 wherein the government has brought about drastic changes, including control of several devolved departments and abolition of the district tier.

A division bench comprising Chief Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth and Justice Abdul Shakoor issued the notice to KP government through the chief secretary, secretary local government, secretary law and secretary provincial assembly, directing them to submit comments before the next hearing.

The bench also put on notice Khyber Pakhtunkhwa advocate general to submit reply and assist the court on the law and constitutional points in next hearing fixed for September 24.

Opposition leader in KP Assembly Akram Khan Durrani, ANP parliamentary leader Sardar Hussain Babak, PPP parliamentary leader Sher Azam Wazir, JUI-F parliamentary leader Lutfur Rehman, ANP MPA Khushdil Khan and JI MPA Inayatur Rehman have challenged the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Local Government (Amendment) Act 2019 in the high court.

During arguments of the case, counsel for the petitioners submitted before the bench that through various sections of the Act including sections 55, 57 (ii), (iii), section 60, section 64 and section 70 of the Pakhtunkhwa Local Government (Amendment) Act 2019, the government enhanced the authority of the chief minister of the province to the extent that he can pass any order or directive, which shall be binding on local government at all levels.

Furthermore, the court was informed that under these powers, the chief minister can set aside and suspend any order, action and resolution passed by and at any level of the local government.

“These provisions also offend the basic concept and object of local government as they tend to give totalitarian and overall authority/powers to the office of the chief minister,” the lawyer argued, adding that the above instances clearly demonstrate that the provisions of the impugned act are not only in conflict with various provisions of the Constitution, but they also offend fundamental rights of the petitioners and thus the judicial review of the impugned act is, therefore, more necessary and indispensable.

In the petition, the opposition lawmakers have pointed out various anomalies in the act and stated that through the amendment, the provincial government returned the control of many devolved departments to the government and abolished the district tier of the LG system.

They submitted that the new system consists of tehsils as well as village and neighbourhood councils after the abolition of the district councils.

The lawyer argued that the tehsil and city councils, under the amended law, would be granted additional financial and administrative powers to impose a penalty at a large scale.

He said the provincial government in a major policy shift decided to abolish the district government, the most effective tier of the existing local government system.

The lawyer pointed out that it is uncertain as to who would be the administrative head of the 20 devolved departments headed by the district nazim under the KP LG Act 2013.

He said that mutually contradictory procedure of electing chairman tehsil and neighbourhood councils through a party-based election and as against that electing the house (tehsil council and neighbourhood council) through a non-party-based election would otherwise encourage corruption, horse-trading and blackmailing.

After hearing arguments, the bench put on notice the advocate general Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to submit reply and assist the court on the law and constitutional points on next hearing fixed on September 24.