Officials were told yesterday they would be taken to court unless they dropped plans to scrap the municipal councils. The Democratic Party said it would apply for a judicial review if it did not hear from the Government by noon next Wednesday. The threat came in a letter to Secretary for Constitutional Affairs Michael Suen Ming-yeung, from Ho, Tse, Wai & partners, acting for party members Eric Wong Chung-ki and Josephine Chan Shu-ying. Party vice-chairman Albert Ho Chun-yan said Mr Wong and Ms Chan were chosen because they were, respectively, an elected urban councillor and an elected regional councillor. The Municipal Services (Re-organisation) Bill, on which debate resumes on December 1, will abolish the two municipal councils and hand over their responsibilities to the Government and arts and sport councils. Mr Ho said he would also write to Secretary for Justice Elsie Leung Oi-sie, seeking the Government's consent for the court to issue a pre-emptive order on the grounds that the case is of public importance and interest. It is the first time such an order has been sought. Legal advice from academic Johannes Chan Man-mun and Senior Counsel Philip Dykes indicated that the bill, if passed, would contravene Article 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The article says everyone has the right and the opportunity to take part in the conduct of public affairs, directly or through freely chosen representatives. The Democrats says the abolition of the councils will undermine this right. The UN Human Rights Committee has said it is concerned about the abolition. Mr Ho said the bill also contravened Article 97 of the Basic Law, which empowers the Government to establish district organisations so as to promote public participation in local affairs. A spokesman for the Constitutional Affairs Bureau said it had received the letter and was studying its content. He said the decision to abolish the municipal councils was in line with the Basic Law and the covenant. Elections are being held on November 28 for district councils, which will replace the municipal councils and district boards.