PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court on Tuesday directed the advocate general of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to assist it on the legal point whether the provincial government could transfer the billions of rupees worth of Sarhad Development Authority assets to the newly-established Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Economic Zones Development and Management Company through an ordinance.

A bench consisting of Justice Qaiser Rashid Khan and Justice Roohul Amin Khan also issued an interim order stating the position of the SDA employees would remain the same until final order.

The court issued notices to the respondents in the petition filed by SDA employees against the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government’s ordinance on the transfer of the SDA assets and employees to the EZDMC.

SDA Employees Association president Ismail Khalil challenged the ordinance in the high court through lawyer Mohibullah Kakakhel.

Mr. Kakakhel told the court that earlier, the association had challenged the dissolution of the SDA and the high court then on March 10, 2016 passed its decision and did not endorse the provincial government’s decision about the dissolution of the SDA through an executive order.

He said the court had also restrained the government from transferring the SDA assets to the KPEZDMC and ordered the protection of the employment of the SDA workers.

The lawyer however said the provincial government promulgated an ordinance on July 22 through which all the assets of the SDA were directed to be transferred to the EZDMC.

He said an ordinance couldn’t be issued in the circumstances when the sessions of the assembly could be called on 24-hour notice and in this case the session of the assembly was scheduled to be held after the signing of the ordinance and the session of the assembly was also held a few days before the ordinance.

The lawyer said the issuance of the ordinance was a clear violation of Article 189 of the Constitution read with articles 4 and 25 thereof.

“It is a settled law that the legislative powers of the elected representatives cannot be exercised by the governor or president unless there is an extreme emergency threatening the very existence of the country,” he said.

The lawyer prayed the court that the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Ordinance No. IX of 2016 be declared illegal and without jurisdiction and as an interim relief, action on the ordinance be suspended until the disposal of the petition.

However, additional advocate general Waqar Ahmad and lawyer for the EZDMC submitted that the provincial government was going to get the draft bill about it passed in the ongoing session of the assembly as it was put on agenda.

They also said SDA employees were protected and would be transferred to the EZDMC in line with the newly-formed company’s rules and conditions.

Published in Dawn, August 17th, 2016

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