ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court of Pakistan Monday reserved its verdict on the petition of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) to strike down various provisions of Sindh Local Government Act, 2013.

A three-member bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Gulzar Ahmed conducted hearing of the petitions seeking empowerment and autonomy for Local Government institutions in Sindh, particularly Karachi.

In this matter, Asad Umar, Federal Minister for Planning and Development, also filed a similar petition under Article 184(3) of Constitution.

During the hearing, Justice Ijazul Ahsan said that the court had ruled that the implementation of Article 140-A is necessary and must be implemented through legislation across all the provinces.

MQM’s counsel, Salahuddin Ahmed Advocate, argued that Karachi’s building control, water supply, local transport and solid waste, among other local bodies, are under the control of the Sindh government. He added that the local government has the sole responsibility for the maintenance of parks and libraries.

The counsel further stated that civic amenities, including parks and playgrounds, fall under the responsibility of the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation. He continued that however, KMC does not have authority over the whole of Karachi.

The Chief Justice said that he has seen the mayor of Karachi inaugurating public transport many times. However, buses disappear from the roads a day after the inauguration.

Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed remarked that if the Karachi Mayor cannot deliver, his powers must be withdrawn. The top court decided that it would provide local bodies with guidelines.

Justice Ijazul Ahsan said that the spirit of Article 140A is decentralization of the power and not to hold it in a few hands. He also said that they are looking for balance and want to encourage the LGs to function, as all over the world the LGs are performing remarkably.

He observed that if hands of LGs representatives are tied, they would be ultimately failed. He said that the Sindh government has made the LGs in Karachi toothless.

Advocate General Sindh Salman Talib-ud-Din said that the constitution does not define the extent and recognize the strength of the provincial government and it is the political reality. He added that all the provinces have different problems.

Replying to Justice Ijaz query, the AG Sindh responded that the departments of Building Control and Town, Water and Sewerage should remain with those whom the people have given mandate. He said that the prayer in the MQM petition is not prayer but the wish list.

The bench ordered AGP Khalid Jawed, AG Sindh Talib-ud Din and MQM counsel to submit synopsis of their arguments in a week.