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February 14, 2021

SHC seeks govt’s comments as recent postings in KMC challenged

Karachi

February 14, 2021

The Sindh High Court (SHC) has issued notices to the local government secretary, provincial law officers and others on a petition against frequent postings and transfers of the Sindh government’s high ranking officers in the local councils of urban centres of the province — Karachi, Hyderabad and Sukkur.

Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan MNA Usama Qadri and others have approached the SHC for the enforcement of the Article 140-A of the constitution, which makes it imperative for the provincial government to devolve political, administrative and financial responsibility and authority to the elected representatives of the local governments.

The petitioners submitted that the Sindh local government department had issued a notification on October 8, 2020, whereby the posts of various cadres on the strength of the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) were placed on the schedule of the establishment of local council of Sindh in disregard to the Sindh Local Government Act, 2013 and rules framed thereunder.

The SHC was informed that the Sindh government had placed officers of the Sindh government or officers appointed in other districts of the province in the KMC and other civic bodies of Karachi without considering the fact that Karachi had been declared as an urban area and therefore such exercise was against the quota system implemented in the province and it violated the rights of the officers of the urban areas who had served in those areas for decades.

A counsel for the petitioners asserted that the act of transferring of officers from various provincial departments and other councils to the local councils of Karachi, Hyderabad and Sukkur was illegal, void and of no legal effect, and thus the notification issued in this regard was liable to be set aside.

The counsel alleged that the issuance of impugned notification was an abortive attempt on the part of Sindh government to usurp the rights of urban areas as protected under the Article 140-A of the constitution as well as under the provisions of the Sindh Local Government Act, 2013.

The counsel argued that the powers exercised under the section 121 of the Sindh Local Government Act, 2013, by the Sindh government to place the posts of Sindh Council Unified Grades Services (SCUG) on the schedule of establishment of local council of Sindh virtually could not be effectively done on the premise that the council had a different composition than the council of an urban area as defined under the 2013 Act.

He submitted that the employees of the metropolitan corporation and their posts could not be placed on the schedule of local council by the issuance of the impugned notification.

He referred to various provisions of the 2013 Act and argued that the transfers and postings of officers working in the local council of Karachi to another council of Sindh could not be made under the law.

The high court was requested to set aside the impugned notification and restrain the Sindh government’s officers from working in union councils of Karachi, Hyderabad and Sukkur districts. The petitioners requested the SHC to issue notices to the respondents and in the meantime, suspend the impugned notification.

A division bench of the SHC headed by Justice Mohammad Shafi Siddiqui observed that the court had to appreciate as to whether the impugned notification of the local government was issued in contravention of the provisions of the Sindh Local Government Act, 2013 and whether the posts of the KMC could be placed on the schedule of establishment of local council of Sindh under the law.

The bench further observed that it had to decide if any rights of petitioners were involved in the transfers and postings of the government officers.

After a preliminary hearing of the petition, the SHC issued notices to the local government secretary and others and called their comments within a week.