March 26th, 2021
By Rehan Piracha
The fate of local government representatives in Punjab hangs in the air despite the Supreme Court order for restoration of local government institutions in the province.
The Punjab government said it faces challenges and difficulties in restoration of the local government institutions and the court order will be implemented once it receives the detailed verdict.
On 25th March, a three-member bench, headed by Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed, declared the dissolution of local government institutions by the Punjab government as unconstitutional.
“For reasons to be recorded later, Section 3 of the Punjab Local Government Act 2019 (PLGA) whereby the local bodies were dissolved is declared ultra vires of the Constitution and the local governments as were existing in Punjab prior to the promulgation of the Section 3 stand restored and it shall complete its term in accordance with the law,” Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed wrote in his short order.
Responding to a question about the Supreme Court order on the restoration of the local governments in the province, Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar said his government was waiting for the detailed judgment of the apex court.
“Once the detailed verdict is received, we will be in a position to comment on the legal course to follow over its implementation,” Buzdar told reporters in a press conference in Lahore on 25th March.
In a press conference on Friday, Firdous Ashiq Awan, Special Assistant to CM Punjab for Information, said the implementation of the apex court order will have to wait till the government receives the detailed verdict.
“The Punjab government will devise a strategy after our legal team goes through the detailed verdict,” she said.
Ashiq said the Punjab government respects the Supreme Court and is bound to implement its orders. “We need to see how we can address the challenges and difficulties in implementing the court order based on what legal space the government has and the advice from the legal team,” she told reporters.
The provincial adviser on information said her government was bound to follow the vision of Prime Minister Imran Khan who believes in nurturing the local government institutions.
Ahmad Iqbal, one of the petitioners and chairman of Narowal District Council, hailed the apex court verdict saying that their two years struggle for the restoration of local government institutions has paid off and elected representatives will be able to complete their term.
“Big win for local democracy in Pakistan. The Supreme Court has recognized that Local Government tenure has the same protection as federal and provincial assemblies,” he wrote in his tweet.
Speaking to Voicepk.net, Syed Mehmoodul Haq Bokhari, chairman of Municipal Committee Kot Sumad in Rahim Yar Khan, said the court verdict has set a precedent in protecting the status of the local government institutions.
He said there was some confusion as to the duration of the remaining term of the elected representatives, adding that the detailed verdict will make clear if they would serve till completion of the five-year term or will be allowed extra years lost during the unconstitutional dissolution of the local government institutions.