SC seeks report on non-restoration of Punjab local bodies

Top court summons Punjab chief secretary, ex-secretary at next hearing


Our Correspondent October 15, 2021
Supreme Court of Pakistan. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

ISLAMABAD:

The Supreme Court (SC) on Friday grilled the Punjab government officials over the government’s failure to restore local bodies across the province as it sought a report from the respective secretary over the matter by next week.

A top court bench headed by Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed was hearing a contempt plea against the Punjab government over local government bodies’ failure to resume functions despite a SC order issued in March this year.

The petitioner told the apex court that the government didn’t restore local bodies despite the court orders.

At this, the Punjab local governments secretary was asked what measures were taken by the government to restore the local bodies. The secretary said he needed time to hire a lawyer.

The CJP expressed displeasure at this and said that despite being a local government secretary, the official didn’t know about the local bodies. “Have you come to the court to have fun,” the CJP asked. “We will send you straight to jail from the court,” he warned.

The CJP said that the court restored local bodies in March, adding that the local bodies’ term will expire in December this year.

The CJP questioned the Lahore mayor, Mubashir Javed, during the hearing. He asked him what has the local representatives done so far?

Read Local governments are part of state, third tier of govt: SC

“We met on the street as per the order of the court,” the mayor said, adding that the Punjab government didn’t facilitate the workings of local bodies.

The meeting and work of local body representatives have been covered in the media, the mayor said in response to the CJ’s question.

However, the CJP chided the mayor, saying the representative of the local bodies weren’t interested in working on their own.

“Go around the world and see how local bodies work. If you wanted to work, you would have done it while sitting on the streets,” he added.

“We cannot even afford a cleaner,” the Lahore mayor informed the bench.

“If you don't know the job description, you all can sit at home,” Justice Gulzar said, adding that the local government officials do not have “passion” to work.

The CJP was informed that the local body representatives were locked out of their offices by the Punjab government officials. “Name the people who locked the offices,” Justice Gulzar said, adding that the local bodies wanted money and staffers to resume work.

The SC also summoned former Punjab chief secretary Jawad Rafique Malik and incumbent Chief Secretary Kamran Afzal on the next hearing. The case was adjourned till Wednesday.

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