KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Monday dismissed Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) lawmakers’ petition seeking an inquiry into jobs given on the basis of fake domiciles in the province, and asked the petitioners to approach the relevant forum for the redressal of their grievances. Sindh Assembly legislator Khawaja Izharul Hasan and other MPAs had submitted in their petition that non-residents of Karachi were being issued domiciles by the government, which would deprive the people of the city of government employment.
They said domiciles and permanent residence certificates (PRCs) should not be issued to non-residents because it was the right of the residents of the city to apply for government jobs.
The petitioners maintained that non-residents had managed to obtain government jobs and admissions to professional universities on the basis of fake domiciles and PRCs on the urban quota, which deprived the citizens of Karachi of government jobs, and admissions to professional colleges and universities.
The petitioners’ counsel submitted that the commissioner and deputy commissioners (DCs) had been informed about the issuance of fake domiciles and PRCs with evidence, but no action was taken against the officers responsible.
The lawyer submitted that the commissioner and DCs had given assurances that they would be vigilant in future, but brokers and agents were still facilitating the public in the issuance of fake domiciles and PRCs.
He submitted that the provincial government had failed to take action against the issuance of fake domiciles to non-residents of Karachi, Hyderabad and Sukkur despite several complaints.
He added that government jobs were sold after the issuance of fake domiciles to non-residents, while permanent residents of urban Sindh, including Karachi, Hyderabad and Sukkur, were deprived of their rights.
The counsel argued that it was the duty of the government to ensure transparency and merit in government employment, and asked the SHC to direct the government to ensure that domiciles not be issued to any non-resident.
The high court was also requested to constitute a committee for scrutinising the domiciles and PRCs issued from 2008 to date.
The additional advocate general opposed the petition submitting that an alternative remedy was available to the petitioners, and the Sindh government had already constituted the Sindh PRC and Domicile Appellate Committee for scrutinising the allegedly fake domiciles, so the petition was not maintainable on merit.
After hearing the arguments of the counsel, an SHC division bench comprising Chief Justice Ahmed Ali M Sheikh and Justice Yousuf Ali Sayeed observed that during the pendency of the petition, the provincial government had constituted the appellate committee, and empowered it to receive applications from aggrieved persons, call for records to ascertain facts and decide the matter in accordance with the law.
The court observed that since the Sindh government had already constituted the divisional security committee and the appellate committee for deciding the applications received from aggrieved persons, the petition was not maintainable for hearing.
The court, however, observed that the petitioners are free to approach the relevant forum for the redressal of their grievances, if so advised.
The chief secretary had earlier filed comments on the petition mentioning that the certificate of domicile was issued under Section 17 of the Pakistan Citizenship Act.
He submitted that there was no specific number of people describing the urban population because people migrated to the urban areas in search of livelihood, education, etc.
He also submitted that if a person migrated to another district, surrendered the domicile of his previous district and proved his permanent abode in the new district to the satisfaction of the authority concerned, they would be issued a domicile of the new district, as provided under the rules.
The CS submitted that Section 17 of the Act, and Rule 23 of the Pakistan Citizenship Rules entitled the person filing an application in the prescribed manner containing the prescribed particulars for being granted such certificate to be issued the same by the relevant authority (DC).
He submitted that as per the fixed 60 per cent rural and 40 per cent urban quota, every citizen of the relevant area had the equal right and opportunity to compete for recruitment.
He also submitted that any person aggrieved by the grant of a certificate of domicile or PRC may prefer an appeal before the authority concerned for the cancellation of the document as per the law.
The CS submitted that the citizenship rules provided investigation against a person if they obtained citizenship or domicile through fraud or false representation, and if the person’s information was found to be false, they would be prosecuted under Section 177 of the Pakistan Penal Code.
He requested that the SHC dismiss the petition as not maintainable in view of the existing rules that provided a legal forum for the redressal of grievances in the issuance of a domicile or PRC under Rule 8 of the Sindh PRC Rules 1971.