July 16th, 2021
By Rehan Piracha
The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Friday rejected the Punjab government’s response on not restoring the local government institutions despite the Supreme Court’s judgment and summoned the chief secretary and the local government secretary on July 19.
Justice Ayesha Malik was hearing a set of petitions seeking implementation of the Supreme Court’s judgment on March 25 about the restoration of local government in the province. In the previous hearing, the court had directed the provincial law officer to submit a reply on behalf of the government by July 16.
Appearing on behalf of the government, the additional Advocate General court told the court the petitions were inadmissible. The law officer said the provincial government faced difficulties in implementing the apex court order to restore local government institutions. He said the provincial government had also filed a review petition against the Supreme Court judgment.
The provincial law officer also told the court that a summary had been moved to the chief minister for the restoration of the local governments in the province, Col(r) Mubashir Javed, mayor of Lahore, told Voicepk.net.
Javed, who is one of the petitioners, said the additional advocate general court failed to produce a copy of the summary when the judge asked him to show the summary regarding restoration of the local government.
Rejecting the stance of the provincial government, the judge issued notices to the chief secretary and the local government secretary to appear before the court on the next date of hearing on July 19.
On March 25, the Supreme Court had restored Punjab’s local governments, which were dissolved by the ruling Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf government in May 2019. The local governments’ tenure was to expire on January 1, 2022. The majority of the local government representatives belong to the opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz party.
Responding to reports that the provincial government will appoint transitional committees to restore the local government institutions, Ahmed Iqbal, chairman of Narowal district council, said the Supreme Court did not ask for the formation of transition committees but for the restoration of elected councillors, mayors and chairpersons of district councils in the province.
“There is a collusion of provincial governments and civilian establishment working against local democracy,” he said in a tweet.
Ahsan Iqbal, Secretary-General of the PML-N, lamented the provincial PTI government had not restored local governments despite the passage of three months.
“Never have seen Supreme Court orders being taken so lightly and played with like PTI govt is doing for over 3 months by not restoring local govts in Punjab. The game is to minimise tenure as much as possible. What surprises even SC not taking notice,” the PML-N leader said in a tweet.