LAHORE: The government told Lahore High Court (LHC) on Wednesday that the Local Government (Amended) Ordinance 2016 had been placed before the provincial assembly for approval.
The court was hearing petitions filed by four opposition parties against the amendments introduced in the Punjab Local Government Act 2013 through the impugned ordinance.
An additional advocate general stated that the ordinance had been introduced before the assembly to be discussed in its ongoing session. At this, Justice Shahid Waheed adjourned the hearing till February 9.
The PTI, PPP, PML-Q and the PAT had filed the petitions after the government amended the law and changed the method of electing mayors/deputy mayors from secret ballot to a show of hands.
They said that the amended ordinance had changed the procedure of election of chairman or mayor to selection. “Article 226 of the Constitution postulates the secret process of election devoid of undue influence. Secret ballot is a voting method to prevent attempts to influence the voter by intimidation. Secret ballot protects privacy, curbs corruption and strengthens the democratic process,” their counsel said.
They stated that it was patently inappropriate of the government to give retrospective effect to the amendments after the announcement of the schedule of election. “It is the constitutional mandate of the ECP to hold fair and transparent local elections in terms of Articles 140A and 218(3) and 219(d) of the Constitution,” they said.
They have asked the court to declare the amendments void and restrain the ECP from conducting the forthcoming elections for the reserved seats as well as for mayors, deputy mayors, chairmen, vice chairmen of the district councils under the ordinance.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 4th, 2016.