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October 9, 2020

PIDA ordinance challenged: SHC directs federal, provincial govts to respond to plea

National

October 9, 2020

KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Thursday issued notices to Attorney General of Pakistan, Ministry of Law and Justice and Sindh chief secretary on a petition challenging the vires of Pakistan Islands Development Authority Ordinance 2020.

The court was requested to restrain the federal government from taking over Bundal and Budoo islands and appointing chairman of the Pakistan Island Development Authority. Petitioner Shahab Usto submitted that the federal government promulgated the Pakistan Island Development Authority Ordinance 2020 to establish the authority for offshore islands of Sindh and Balochistan. He submitted that functions and duties largely involving infrastructural development and corresponding administrative and regulatory authority are not the sole domain of the Federation and hence part of the federal legislative list but they are assigned to the residuary list of subjects devolved by the provinces. Therefore, he submitted that there was no justification to create an authority considering the provisions of Article 152 read with articles 142, 172 and 173 of the Constitution.

He submitted that the Constitution provides no mechanism to turn any part of a province into federal territory overnight without effecting a constitutional amendment under Article 239 of the Constitution contending that impugned ordinance has altered the boundaries of Sindh within the meaning of Article 239 and hence it is liable to be set aside. He submitted that baseline in the case of two specified areas in the impugned ordinance Bundal and Budoo islands will start along the outer seaward limits of these islands in effect the territorial waters and hence the jurisdiction of federal government would be pushed further 12 nautical miles from the said baselines and thus further entrenching the territorial jurisdiction of the Sindh province. He submitted that the Bundal and Budoo islands are situated within three nautical miles off the coast of Karachi and are historically treated as extensions of Karachi and always amendable to the writ of provincial government. The petitioner submitted that impugned ordinance has sabotaged the constitutional scheme by which the territorial integrity of the provinces was guaranteed under articles 1, 152,172,173 and 239 of the Constitution and impugned ordinance amounted to usurping the territories of the province.

The court was requested to declare the impugned ordinance as unlawful and restrain the federal government from taking over the two islands of Bundal and Budoo under the ordinance. He also requested the court to direct the federal government not to proceed with the implementation of the impugned ordinance and restrain it from appointing chairman of the Pakistan Island Development Authority. The SHC’s division bench headed by Justice Mohammad Ali Mazhar, after preliminary hearing of the petition, issued notices to the Ministry of Law and Justice, chief secretary, attorney general as well as advocate general Sindh and called their comments on October 23.