Govt to revive Punjab LGs after Eid

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The government has decided to revive local governments across Punjab after Eid-ul-Azha in line with the verdict of the top court.

A meeting of the committee formed for this purpose has been convened on July 23.

It will be attended by the local government secretary, assistant director, secretaries of union councils and the assistant commissioners concerned.

They will finalise the plan to revive local bodies and submit it to the government. Another meeting has also been convened for the revival of the Rawalpindi tehsil council. The participants of the two meetings will set a timeframe for the purpose.

In March this year, the Supreme Court had ordered the restoration of Punjab’s local governments, which were dissolved by the PTI-led provincial government on May 4, 2019, years ahead of their prescribed term – January 1, 2022.

"For reasons to be recorded separately, constitution petition No 48 of 2019 is allowed and Section 3 of the Punjab Local Government Act, 2019 is declared to be ultra vires of the Constitution and the local governments as were existing in the province of Punjab prior to promulgation of the said section stand restored and it shall complete its term in accordance with law," the short order announced by a three-judge bench read.

The bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed and comprising Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi, announced the order, while hearing a petition challenging the Punjab LG Act, 2019.

During the hearing, Attorney General for Pakistan Khalid Javed Khan, who was summoned on court's assistance, questioned Section 3 of the Punjab LG Act, 2019, which had empowered the Punjab government to dissolve the LG system before the expiry of its term.

Punjab Additional Advocate General Qasim Chohan said the LG system was brought to an end by virtue of Section 3(1) of the Punjab LG Act, 2019.

Section 3(1) read: “All local governments constituted or continued under the Punjab Local Government Act, 2013 (Act XVIII of 2013) are hereby dissolved.”

Umer Gilani advocate, who on behalf of the local bodies’ representatives had challenged dissolution of the LGs, narrated the two-year history of this matter.

The then LHC Chief Justice Mamoon Rashid Shaikh formed a three-member bench to hear the petitions. Between July and November 2019, this bench conducted more than half a dozen hearings but did not decide the matter despite protests from the petitioners' counsels.

In March 2020, frustrated with the inability of the LHC to decide their case either way, the deposed LG representatives knocked the doors of the Supreme Court under Article 184(3) of the Constitution.

Initially, the registrar returned the petitions as non-maintainable.

On April 24 last year, after hearing a chamber appeal, Justice Umar Ata Bandial held the petitions as maintainable.

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