SHC issues notices in petition against CM powers to appoint provincial ombudsman

Karachi:    Sindh High Court (SHC) has issued notices to respondents on constitutional petition D-929 of 2020 here Friday and instructed them to appear in person or through their pleaders on March 3, 2020.

During last hearing on February 12, a two-member bench comprising Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar and Justice Yusuf Ali Saeed of Sindh High Court (SHC) had ordered to issue notices to Sindh government and other respondents on this petition challenging a new law that has given powers to chief minister to appoint provincial ombudsman.

The constitutional petition was filed by Pasban Democratic Party (PDP) Chairman Altaf Shakoor against Establishment of the Office of Ombudsman for the Province of Sindh (Amendment) Act, 2020, and prayed the court to declare it as unconstitutional, illegal, void ab initio and of no legal effect.

Petitioner Altaf Shakoor, making province of Sindh through chief secretary, Sindh provincial assembly through its speaker, Sindh chief minister and governor respondent, had maintained that respondent chief minister and his government has targeted the Provincial Ombudsman office as it is the hurdle in the way of corrupt practices and mal-administration of various departments under the government of Sindh. He maintained that the respondent Chief Minister has targeted and jeopardized, and taken over the powers of respondent Governor for the appointment of the Provincial Ombudsman under the umbrella of Provincial Assembly by malafidely misusing the majority of political seats and representation in the Assembly without any debate and giving chance to the opposition to raise objections.

He maintained that respondent Chief Minister has delegated the power to himself to appoint the Provincial Ombudsman to check corruption of in departments under his administration, which is against the principle of law, constitution, principle of natural justice, general clauses act, and thus is illegal, unconstitutional, void ab initio. It is submitted that it is the golden principle of law that nobody can be judge of his own cause, and getting power to appoint ombudsman means that accused has become a judge against allegations leveled to him. He said the theme and scheme of Institution of Ombudsman is to eradicate the corruption and mal-administration amongst the Provincial Government offices by impartial person appointed by the Respondent Governor to discharge the duty.

He said that the Provincial Legislative Assembly has no lawful power and authority to pass the impugned Act without debate and with incomplete quorum and without fulfilling the lawful and constitutional formalities.

The petitioner prayed to declare the impugned Act, i.e. Establishment of the Office of Ombudsman for the Province of Sindh (Amendment) Act, 2020, as unconstitutional, illegal, void ab initio and of no legal effect; to direct the respondents to produce and present before this Hon’ble Court the attendance, proceedings and debate in passing of this Act in the Provincial Sindh Assembly; to restrain the respondents, their servants, agents, subordinates and anybody else claiming through or under them not to implement the impugned Act, 2020, and also restrain them from proceeding further on the impugned Act, 2020, and to suspend the operation of the impugned Act, 2020, pending the final decision of this Hon’ble Court.

Lawyer of the petitioner, Irfan Aziz maintained that the provincial government has misused its powers under the 18th amendment, which shows its malafide intentions. He said how a provincial ombudsman could hear a complaint against an authority, who had chosen and appointed him. He said under the impugned law, the office of the provincial office of ombudsman cannot remain neutral and independent.

However, the court ordering to issue notices to respondents had adjourned the hearing till March 03, 2020.

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