The District Municipal Corporation (DMC) South informed the Sindh High Court (SHC) on Monday that it had been collecting charged parking fees under the Sindh Local Government Act that entitles the DMCs to collect the parking fees in their respective jurisdictions.
Filing comments on a petition against charged parking in different areas of Karachi, a counsel for the DMC South submitted that the sections 96 and 100 of the Sindh Local Government Act 2013 allowed the DMCs to collect local taxes and as per the schedule 5 of part-11 item number 5 of the Act, the DMCs were entitled to collect the parking fee.
The counsel informed that the DMC published a notice in a newspaper for the auction of charged parking sites, finalised after completion of codal formalities. He maintained that the DMC collected the parking fees as per the by-laws which were made up for traffic system.
The Karachi Metropolitan Corporation’s (KMC) lawyer also filed comments submitting that the KMC was authorised to charge parking fees only on roads maintained by it. After taking the responses on record, the high court adjourned the hearing till January 17.
The SHC at an earlier hearing had directed all the administrators of the DMCs as well as the traffic police chief to file their comments about the structure, if any, available to regulate charged parking in Karachi.
The high court asked a provincial law officer under which law parking fees were being collected, and said that people were being extorted in the name of charged parking, while on several occasions, private contractors had misbehaved with citizens.
The bench said that motorists had to face extreme traffic jams due to parking on both sides of roads, and asked a representative of the Commissioner’s Office if there were any criteria or rules for collecting parking fees.
Petitioner Khursheed Ahmed Khan had moved the court for taking action against charged parking fee collectors in violation of the Supreme Court’s (SC) orders. He had maintained that the SC had issued clear directions on the issue, but private contractors were collecting parking fees on different roads of the city.
He requested the high court to direct the National Accountability Bureau to conduct an inquiry into the collection of charged parking fees in the city by private contractors, and recover the money collected in the past several years.
It is pertinent to mention here that another bench of the SHC had earlier restrained the cantonment boards in the city or any other authority thereunder from collecting parking fees in their respective jurisdictions until further orders.
The SHC also directed a federal law officer to place on record the complete break-up of funds approved and granted by the federal government to the National Assembly constituencies of Karachi.
The direction came on a petition filed by the Pakistan Peoples Party MNAs elected from Karachi against non-provision of development funds to them by the federal government.
The petitioners, Syed Rafiullah, Jam Abdul Karim and Abdul Qadir Patel, who represent three constituencies of Karachi in the National Assembly, had submitted in the petition that the federal government had released more than Rs3.4 billion development funds to the Karachi MNAs of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and its coalition partners but no development funds had been granted to them as they belonged to the PPP, an opposition party in the National Assembly.
A counsel for the petitioners, Wazeer Hussain Khoso, submitted that the three PPP MNAs represented the people of Karachi in the National Assembly from the constituencies NA-236, NA-238 and NA-248 and they had not been provided funds by the federal government to carry out development works in their constituencies.
He submitted that the act of the federal government was purely an act of discrimination and the non-disbursement of funds had taken place in view of political considerations with the intent to victimise the people who were being represented by the petitioners.
He argued that the federal government had exercised discrimination by granting the development funds to the ruling party and its coalition partners’ MNAs, ignoring the MNAs of the opposition benches.
The lawyer submitted that depriving the people of the constituencies who had elected the opposition MNAs of development works in their area was discriminatory and unlawful. The SHC was requested to direct the federal government to release development funds for the respective constituencies of the three PPP MNAs as well.
A division bench headed by SHC Chief Justice Ahmed Ali M Sheikh directed the federal law officer to place on record the complete break-up of the development funds approved and granted by the federal government to three constituencies of Karachi.