Punjab govt finally challenges SC order on LGs

Says restored officials can't be accommodated in new structure


Hasnaat Malik May 22, 2021
A file photo of the Supreme Court of Pakistan. PHOTO: EXPRESS

ISLAMABAD:

After the passage of two months, the Punjab government has finally challenged the apex court's order for the restoration of local governments in the province.

On May 5, 2019, around 58,000 LG representatives in Punjab – 85% of which belonging to the PML-N – were sent packing – years before completion of their term – after the provincial governor signed the Punjab Local Government Act (PLGA) 2019.

The LG representatives later moved the Supreme Court, whose three-judge bench, presided over by Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed and comprising Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar heard the case.

On March 25 this year, the court passed a short order, restoring the LGs.

However, the order is yet to be implemented by the Punjab government as the LG representatives are not even being allowed to carry out administrative work.

The petitioner has initiated contempt proceedings against the provincial government over its failure to implement the order.

The contempt petition has been fixed for hearing on May 28.

The provincial government, through Advocate General Punjab Ahmed Awais, has filed a review petition against the short order. The detailed judgment has yet to be issued.

The review petition contended that the SC declared section 3 of the Punjab Local Government Act (PLGA) 2019 ultra vires of the constitution, all other provisions of the PLGA  2019 have been left intact.

“This has given rise to an anomalous situation because the constituencies or the local government structure envisaged by the Act of 2013 do not exist anymore having been replaced by the new system envisaged by the Act 2019 and therefore, the restored representatives cannot possibly be accommodated in the new structure,” the petition read.

It is also stated that single-tiered, as opposed to a multiple-tiered local government system with much smaller constituencies, had already been put in place under the Act of 2019.

“Necessary boundary changes requisite demarcation etc. have resulted in the size of constituencies increasing from 229 to 455. Therefore present government with a predicament and for which purpose the province has approached this court.”

It is also contended that the PLGA 2013 did not fulfil the requirements of Article 140-A of the Constitution.
The petition further stated that the restoration of local governments constituted under the PLGA 2013 would require arrangements like operationalisation of closed bank accounts of the local governments.

“It is very difficult rather politically impossible to transfer the funds of the local governments in their respective bank accounts to the local governments constituted under PLGA 2013.”

The plea contended that there were 2,206 posts available under the PLGA 2013 that were increased to 3,984 under the PLGA 2019.

“Accordingly the promotion of the employees and appointment under initial recruitment have been made in the respective local governments constituted under the PLGA 2019.”

Under the PLGA 2019, the requisition of initial recruitment against 43 posts in BS-18 were made.
Only 15 posts in BS-18 would now be available of the local governments constituted under the PLGA 2013 if it was restored.

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