CHS rejects petitions challenging amended local government law

The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Monday dismissed petitions from various union council presidents and vice-presidents challenging an amendment to the local bodies law.

According to the amendment, the mayor, the deputy mayor and any president or vice-president can be removed from their functions by a vote of no confidence by a simple majority.

Abdul Rauf Nizamani and other petitioners had sought to perpetuate their elective mandate, in accordance with the Sindh Local Government Act (SLGA), although they lost the confidence of the majority of their respective chambers.

They also challenged the amendment to section 27 of the SLGA (Amendment) Act 2019, according to which the mayor, the deputy mayor and one of the presidents or vice-presidents can be removed from their positions by a vote of defiance adopted. by virtue of a simple majority, replacing the previous stipulation of a two-thirds majority.

The applicants’ lawyer stated that the contested amendment was colored legislation, ultra vires Article 4 and Article 25 of the constitution and contrary to acquired rights, therefore liable to be overturned.

He said the disputed notifications were issued incompetently in violation of the law and therefore could be quashed. He added that even if the petitioners were shown to have lost the confidence of the majority of the chamber, they should not be removed from their posts.

The Sindh Supplementary Advocate General said the petitioners’ sole aim was to perpetuate the usurpation of an elected mandate, for which they had admittedly lost the mandate. He said the contested amendment was in accordance with general principles of the law and the constitution, and there was no question of retroactive effect or bad faith intent.

He added that the specific issue had been decided by a previous division bench of the tribunal and that it was held that there was no infirmity in this regard. CHS Division Bench, led by Judge Mohammad Ali Mazhar, said applicants’ lawyer failed to demonstrate how violation of Article 4 and Article 25 of the constitution was manifest .

He said that it has already been established that a person does not have an acquired right to remain the head of a house after losing the trust of it, so there is no demonstrable violation of whatever right.

He added that the contested amendment applies province-wide and does not target any specific person, so there does not appear to be any demonstrated discrimination. The judge said no bad faith intent was demonstrated in court with respect to the legislation.

He also said that it is a well-established law that if a law was not ex facie contrary to fundamental rights under the constitution but could be so administered, it could not be set aside unless the party challenging it could. prove that it had in fact been so administered.

He added that under the current circumstances, the petitioners could not show any reluctance, in accordance with the fundamental rights enshrined in the constitution.

Regarding the petitioners ‘claim that a censure motion process should be conducted by the Pakistan Election Commission (ECP), the judge said that the petitioners’ lawyer was specifically asked whether the ECP conducted the internal proceedings. lack of confidence in a prime minister, chief minister or speaker, and the question was answered in the negative.

The tribunal said no case had been established to suggest that a vote of no confidence, in the elected mandates under consideration, should be conducted by the ECP. The bench also said that the court’s jurisdiction is primarily intended to protect fundamental rights enshrined in the constitution.

The judge said that the applicants’ lawyer was unable to demonstrate the violation of a fundamental right of the applicants which would justify the court’s exercise of its jurisdiction.

On the contrary, he added, the perpetuation of the exercise of an elective mandate, the nature subject to scrutiny despite the loss of the confidence of the House, is considered contrary to the law. order of law and the interests of justice.

The court stated that the petitioners had not been able to justify the intervention of the court in the exercise of its constitutional jurisdiction and, therefore, the present applications, including all pending applications, are hereby rejected.

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