SC restores local govt system in Punjab

ISLAMABAD (APP): The Supreme Court on Thursday annulled the Punjab Local Bodies Act 2019 by terming it in contradiction with the Constitution and restored the local government system in the province.

The top court also declared the Section 3 of the Punjab Local Government Act, 2019 unconstitutional.

The local government system in Punjab was abolished after the passage of the Punjab Local Government Act 2019 by the provincial assembly in May 2019.

A three-member SC bench comprising Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed, Justice Ijaz Ul Ahsan and Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi heard the case seeking declaration of the Punjab Local Government Act, 2019 as repugnant to Article 140-A of the Constitution.

During the course of proceedings, the Additional Advocate General of Punjab apprised the court that the Punjab government was ready to hold the local government elections in the province to ensure devolution of powers to the grassroots level.

He said the matter was pending before the Council of Common Interests (CCI), whose meeting was scheduled on March 24 but delayed as Prime Minister Imran Khan was tested COVID-19 positive.

The CJP asked as to why the local bodies government system was ended in Punjab. The local government representatives were elected for five years.

The counsel for the petitioner said that the LB government system system was ended before the due time of elected representative in December 2021.

He said laws could be made under Article 140 but the same could not abolish the government institutions.

Justice Ijaz said all forms of government could only be abolished for a limited period of time. The people had been deprived of their representatives, he added.

The chief justice asked under which law the local bodies were abolished.

The Punjab Government, in his reply, stated that the purpose of dissolution of the previous local governments was to ensure a level playing field for all prospective candidates in the upcoming elections under the 2019 [LG] Act. The government wanted to eliminate political influence of any kind; there was no other way that political parity could be achieved in such context.

The reply stated that the right of the local governments to enjoy a complete term of five years was subject to any other provision of the act. The relevant provision in the PLGA 2013, controlling the provision of section 30(1) was contained in section 146 of the PLGA-2013, it added.

The reply further stated that the government could, subject to such conditions as could be specified, delegate any of its functions under the Act to an officer subordinate to it except the power to make rules, to suspend or remove a mayor or chairman or to dissolve the local governments.

The court after hearing arguments ordered to restore the local bodies government system by terming section 3 of the Local Bodies Act in contradiction with the Constitution.