October 21st, 2021
By Rehan Piracha
The Supreme Court on Wednesday said it will probe the delay in the restoration of local governments in Punjab, seeking a record of all proceedings of the Lahore High Court regarding non-implementation of the apex court’s March 25 judgment.
A two-member bench, headed by Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed, was hearing a contempt petition against the Punjab government for non-implementation of the apex court’s March 25 verdict which restored local governments in the province. In the last hearing, the bench had issued notices to Punjab Chief Secretary Kamran Afzal and summoned former chief secretary Javed Rafique on 20th October over delay in restoration of local governments.
During the hearing on Wednesday, the Punjab government submitted a notification for the restoration of local governments in the province. However, the Chief Justice remarked that the drafting of the Punjab government’s notification was not correct. The provincial government thinks that it is they who have restored local governments in the province, the Chief Justice remarked.
The counsel for the petitioner Col (r) Mubashar Javed, Mayor of Lahore, told the apex court that the Punjab government has stated the court order could not be complied with during the proceedings before the Lahore High Court.
The Supreme Court sought a record of all proceedings of the Lahore High Court relating to petitions for implementation of the apex court’s verdict. The court said it would investigate the matter to find out who was responsible for delaying the implementation of its order.
In the written reply of the local government secretary, it is said that a summary was sent to the Chief Minister, Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel remarked. “Whoever is responsible will be brought to justice,” the Chief Justice added. The Supreme Court sought certified copies of the orders of the Lahore High Court in the case as well as written answers from the Punjab government and government officials. The court adjourned further hearing for two weeks.
Speaking to Voicepk.net, Lahore mayor Col (r) Mubashir Javed welcomed the court’s decision to investigate the inordinate delay in implementing the judgment. The mayor said he has taken charge of his office following the Punjab government notification on 17th October.
However, he said that there have been complaints from local government representatives from other cities in Punjab that they had not been handed over charge of their offices despite the notification. “I would take up these complaints with the local government secretary during my meeting with him on Thursday in Lahore,” Javed told Voicepk.net.
Javed said the delay in the restoration of local governments had severely impacted the delivery of civic services to millions of people in the province. He said local government representatives have also approached the courts to extend the tenure of their offices scheduled to expire on 31st December. He said the tenure of the local governments had been cut short by 27 months by the Punjab government’s illegal dissolution.
In a tweet, Ahsan Iqbal, secretary-general of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, slammed the Punjab notification to restore local governments after seven months of the apex court judgment.
“Punjab government has issued a sham notification to save its skin before the Supreme Court. No action to restore staff and offices on the ground. Waiting for last month when outgoing governments can’t use development funds. Local bodies’ development funds will be dished out to PTI MNAs/MPAs. Who will return 29 months?” Iqbal said in his tweet.
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.