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October 24, 2020

Federal govt already negotiating with Sindh on PIDA Ordinance, AGP tells SHC

National

October 24, 2020

KARACHI: The federal government was already engaged in discussions with the Government of Sindh to resolve the differences, if any, on the promulgation of Pakistan Islands Development Authority Ordinance 2020, the attorney general of Pakistan told the Sindh High Court on Friday.

Arguing on the petition that challenged vires of the PIDA Ordinance, AGP Khalid Javed Khan submitted that the Supreme Court has jurisdiction to entertain the proceedings under Article 184 of the Constitution in case of dispute between the Federation and the province. He submitted that the purpose of the promulgation of the ordinance was not to take over the islands but to develop the same.

He submitted that the federal government was already engaged in discussions with the Government of Sindh to resolve the differences if any with regard to promulgation of Pakistan Islands Development Authority Ordinance 2020. He assured the court that no development work on the project will commence without collaboration and cooperation of the provincial government adding that all apprehensions of the provincial government will be addressed before taking any action.

Regarding the environmental issues raised by the petitioners on development work at Buddo and Bandal islands, the AGP said that all environmental issues, including the mangroves trees, will be fully addressed and protected. He further submitted that the ordinance was not the final word and if required necessary amendments may be made after due deliberation and discussion with the provincial government.

The SHC’s division bench, headed by Justice Mohammad Ali Mazhar, after taking the statement of AGP on record, directed all concerned respondents to file their respective comments by November 13.

The court also issued notices to the federal and provincial law officers on identical petitions against the promulgation of the ordinance. The counsel of the petitioners also requested the court to pass some restraining order with regard to development work on the Buddo and Bundal islands.

The petitioners have assailed the vires of Pakistan Islands Development Authority Ordinance 2020 promulgated for the development and management of the islands situated at internal and territorial waters of Pakistan.

Petitioner Shahab Usto submitted in the petition that the federal government promulgated the Pakistan Islands Development Authority Ordinance 2020 to establish the authority for off-shore islands of the provinces of Sindh and Balochistan. He submitted that functions and duties largely involving infrastructural development and corresponding administrative and regulatory authority environment are not the sole domain of the Federation and hence part of Federal Legislative List but such functions and duties are assigned to the Residuary List of subjects devolved upon the provinces. 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.

The petitioner submitted that the Constitution of Pakistan provides no such mechanism so as to turn any part of a province into federal territory overnight without effecting a constitutional amendment under Article 239 of the Constitution, contending that the 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 will start along the outer seaward limits of these islands, in effect the territorial waters, and hence the jurisdiction of the 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 specified areas, the Bundal and Budoo islands, are situated within three nautical miles off the coast of Karachi and hence these islands have been historically treated as extensions of the city 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 has been guaranteed under articles 1, 152,172,173 and 239 of the Constitution and impugned ordinance was amount 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, 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 the chairman of the Pakistan Islands Development Authority for which an advertisement was published in national dailies.