September 22nd, 2021
By Rehan Piracha
Lahore High Court on Tuesday gave 15 days further to the Punjab government to submit an action plan for the implementation of the Supreme Court March 25 verdict on the restoration of local governments in the province.
Justice Ayesha A Malik was hearing petitions of Lahore Lord Mayor Mubashir Javed and 10 other mayors against non-implementation of the Supreme Court orders by the provincial government. This is the third time that the high court has extended the date of submission of an action plan for restoration of local governments as mandated in the apex court’s judgment.
During the hearing, the Punjab advocate general told the court that the action plan for the restoration of local governments has been submitted to the provincial cabinet for approval. Appearing before the court, Punjab Local Government Secretary Noorul Amin Mengal sought time from the court to submit a written action plan for the restoration of local governments. The court has barred release of development funds of local governments till the implementation of the apex court’s judgment.
The counsel for the petitioners said the Supreme Court ordered the restoration of the local governments in Punjab in its judgment on March 25. The counsel said the provincial government is deliberately not complying with the apex court’s order. Due to the non-implementation of the verdict, problems of citizens were not being resolved, he added.
Failure to implement the decision of the Supreme Court falls under the category of contempt of court, the counsel for the petitioners told the court. The court should order contempt of court proceedings against the government officials, he said.
However, Justice Ayesha A Malik gave the provincial government 15 days more to submit an action plan for the restoration of the local governments in the province. The court adjourned proceedings till the next date of hearing on October 12.
Mayor laments delay in restoration of local govts
Speaking to Voicepk.net, Lahore mayor Col (r) Mubashir Javed lamented the delay in the implementation of the Supreme Court’s judgment despite the passage of six months. “We moved the petition for contempt proceedings against provincial govt in the high court in April but the restoration of the local governments has still not happened,” he said.
Javed said the delay has severely impacted the delivery of civic services to millions of people in the province. “Everyday citizens are coming to our homes for resolution of their problems but we are helpless as local governments are yet to be restored,” he said. He claimed that there were around 11,000 divorce cases pending before the deputy commissioner’s office as reconciliation committees in the union councils were non-functional following the dissolution of the local governments.
Besides, the delay in the restoration of local governments is also tarnishing Pakistan’s image internationally, the Lahore mayor said. “I have received three invitations for visit as mayor of Lahore from counterparts in other countries but I have to decline due to delay in restoration of my mayoral office,” he pointed out.
Javed warned that if the provincial government fails to submit the action plan within 15 days, the elected local government representatives would be forced to open their offices on the streets.
On March 25, a bench of the Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed, through a short order, termed Section 3 of the Punjab Local Bodies Act in contravention of the Constitution and ordered to restore local governments in Punjab province. The apex court declared the government’s decision to dissolve the local governments unconstitutional. The Supreme Court issued its detailed judgment on July 5.