ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Friday directed the Punjab government to ensure until October 20 the restoration of local government system in the province and summoned the incumbent and former chief secretaries on the next date of hearing.
A two-member bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed, heard a case pertaining to implementation of its order restoring the local government system in the province.
On March 25, 2021, the court had restored the local government system in Punjab and declared Section 3 of the Punjab Local Bodies Act 2019 as ultra vires to the Constitution.
The Punjab Local Bodies 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 Bodies 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.
On Friday, the court issued a notice to Chief Secretary Punjab Kamran Afzal and summoned former chief secretary Javed Rafique on the next date of hearing.
The court took exception to non-filing of a report on not restoring the local government system in Punjab and admonished Local Government Secretary Noorul Amin Mengal.
The Chief Justice noted with concerns that the court had ordered restoration of the local government system in the province. However, the provincial government did not comply with the court order. The counsel for the petitioners told the court that despite the court order, the local government system was not yet restored in the province, adding that when local government representatives went to offices, they were asked to leave and the offices were locked.
The chief justice asked the local government secretary as to what the provincial government has done so far for implementing the court order.
The secretary sought more time for submitting a report on which the chief justice observed that the secretary does not know anything and comes to court for just entertainment.
“We will send you straight to jail,” the CJP told the local government secretary. “You don’t know about your responsibility,” the CJP added.
The court was informed that the tenure of local governments was going to expire in December. The chief justice then asked as to what the local government representatives have done so far, adding that the elected representatives don’t want to work.
“See how the local government system functions around the world. When they work, they even start it while sitting on roads”, the CJP remarked and added that the court restored the local government system throughout the country. When the local government representatives are ignorant of their responsibilities, why they should not sit at their homes, he said.
Mubashir Javed, Mayor of Lahore, told the court that in pursuance of the court order, they held meetings even on roads and the media reported it as well. He, however, submitted that the Punjab government did not cooperate with them.
The chief justice asked him to name those who blocked the offices.
The mayor told the court that the local government representatives are determined to work, adding that if the provincial government releases funds and staff, they would give better performance. Later, the court adjourned the hearing until October 20.
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