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September 26, 2020

Law department questions maintainability of petition against amended ombudsman bill

Karachi

September 26, 2020

The Sindh Law Department has questioned the maintainability of a petition filed in the high court to challenge the amendments in the Establishment of the Office of the Ombudsman for the Province of Sindh (Amendment) Bill 2020.

The department’s focal person told the Sindh High Court (SHC) on Thursday that the appointment of the ombudsman had taken place in line with the policy that was duly approved by the provincial cabinet and enacted by the provincial assembly through the relevant amendments.

Filing comments on the petition that challenges the amendments regarding the transfer of the authority of making the appointment from the governor to the chief minister, the focal person said the governor’s role in the Establishment of the Office of the Ombudsman for the Province of Sindh Act 1991 was a statutory one that was created by an act of the PA.

He said that to make the role of the ombudsman more effective, it was felt expedient to empower the CM and amend the law to the extent of only appointing the ombudsman, as no provisions regarding the qualification tenure had been amended.

He also said the authority of appointing the ombudsman lay with the provincial governments in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. He declared that the petition was not maintainable because the petitioner was neither an aggrieved party nor adversely affected by the ombudsman’s appointment with the CM’s approval in terms of the amended act.

The focal person said the petitioner had failed to make a case with regard to illegality or violation of law as regards the ombudsman’s appointment in view of the amendment in Section 3 of the 1991 ombudsman act.

He said the amendment was made in line with the provisions in articles 116(2) and 116(3) of the constitution that empower the PA to pass the bill with or without an amendment returned by the governor with the message that the bill or any specified provision be reconsidered.

He pointed out that the collective wisdom of the elected representatives of the people could not be called into question under any pretext if the amendment took place exactly in the line with the parameters. He requested the court to dismiss the petition. After taking the comments of the law department’s focal person on record, the SHC’s division bench headed by Justice Mohammad Ali Mazhar adjourned the hearing until October 28.