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Friday November 26, 2021

SC restores Punjab local govt system

A three-member bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed allowed petitions challenging the Act. The Punjab Local Government Act 2019 was passed by the provincial legislature in May, 2019.

March 26, 2021

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Thursday ordered restoration of the local government system in Punjab and declared Section 3 of the Punjab Local Government Act 2019 as ultra vires to the Constitution.

A three-member bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed allowed petitions challenging the Act. The Punjab Local Government Act 2019 was passed by the provincial legislature in May, 2019.

Asad Ali Khan and others who were elected as mayors under the Punjab Local Government Act 2013 for a period of five years had challenged the Punjab Local Government Act 2019. Their term of office was to expire on December 26, 2021, however, they stood removed under Section 3 of the Punjab Local Bodies Act 2019.

The court announced in its short order that for reasons to be recorded separately, constitutional petition No 48 of 2019 is allowed and Section 3 of the Act is declared to be ultra vires and the local governments as were existing in Punjab prior to promulgation of the said section stand restored and it shall complete its term in accordance with law.

The court further noted that as Constitution petition no 7 of 2020 is also for the same relief as in the petition No 48 of 2019, the same is also disposed of.

Regarding CMA No 6762 of 2020, the court noted that in view of the disposal of the petition No 48 of 2019 and 7 of 2020, this application has become infructuous and is disposed of.

Similarly, the court adjourned petition No 9 of 2020 and civil petition No 172-Q of 2020 for date-in-office. Earlier, during the hearing, the chief justice observed that a law can be made under Article 140 and institutions cannot be abolished. “Someone has given wrong advice to bring an Act,” the CJ remarked.

Additional Advocate General Punjab Qasim Chohan, told the court that the Punjab government is ready to hold local government elections, the matter is still pending in the Council of Common Interests (CCI).

Justice Ijazul Ahsen observed that first the local bodies were abolished for six months and later on elections were announced but after that it were extended for 21 months and now it is being linked to the pending decision of CCI.

The chief justice inquired whether local government elections were being held in the remaining provinces. Attorney General Khalid Javed replied that there are objections to the census of the remaining provinces. He informed the court that the meeting of the CCI, which was scheduled to be held on March 24, will now be held on April 07.

The chief justice said the statement of the attorney general should be recorded and local government elections should be held in the province in May. The attorney general said that this is a matter not only of the federation but also of the provinces.

Counsel for the petitioner submitted before the court that the term of local bodies in Punjab was till December 2021. After the 2018 elections, a new party government came to power in Punjab and the federal government. He said the Punjab government made a new amendment and then issued an ordinance.

Justice Mazahir Ali Akbar Naqvi inquired whether the local governments in the remaining provinces had completed their term. The chief justice observed that the people elect local bodies representatives for a term of five years. “We cannot allow such a notification whereby the local representatives could be sent home,” CJP remarked.