The Supreme Court on Thursday restored Punjab’s local governments, which were dissolved by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf 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 says.
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.
Pakistans Election Commission (ECP) has announced the start of preparations for elections to local bodies across the country.
In this sense, the ECP has published a calendar for the delimitation of the competences of local governments.
According to a notification, the Pakistan Election Commission has set up committees for the delimitation of local government jurisdictions in the Punjab.
In a notification, the PCE ordered the provincial electoral commission to complete the demarcation of electoral constituencies in 36 districts of Punjab within four months.
The delimitation of constituencies will be completed from July 6 to October 13, read the notice.
The briefing about the local government system was given to the prime minister at the Chief Minister’s Secretariat in Lahore.
During the meeting, the prime minister directed that arrangements be made for holding elections to activate the system of local bodies as soon as possible so that the problems of the people could be solved at their doorstep through local governments.
The prime minister was informed that all administrative and legal arrangements were being made diligently. He was told that village panchayat elections and local body elections will be held on time.
It was told in the meeting that the Provincial Election Commission will complete the delimitation process within 60 days from next month, and afterward, the elections can be organized at village and panchayat level.
It was further told that those elections would last for 45 days.
The prime minister expressed satisfaction over the pace of preparation as per administrative and legal requirements with regard to local bodies.
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has released the schedule for local body elections in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) on Thursday.
According to the details garnered, constituencies in 36 districts of Punjab will begin from the next month. The neighborhood and Village Council constituencies will be demarcated by the ECP.
However, the maps will be obtained from July 6 to July 25. The committees will prepare preliminary lists of constituencies by August 20 and release them by August 21.
The committees will prepare a preliminary list of constituencies by August 20.
Earlier, Prime Minister (PM) Imran Khan directed Punjab government to complete preparations for local body elections, said the sources. The prime minister gave the task to Punjab government for task of holding local body elections at the village council level.
“Prime minister says the elections at the gross root level are the solutions of people’s problem,” PM Khan said during the meeting with Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar. He also directed to announce election after preparations of village council elections.
The sources further said that the Prime Minister supported CM Bazdar, saying, it was only negative propaganda that Usman Bazdar was not empowered. “The chief secretary and IG Punjab are new but work as team of the Punjab chief minister,” he added.
LG&CD Department has designed IT based project with the objective of transformation from manual to e-governance mode for better management, future planning, decision making, transparency, good governance and for effective performance of municipal service delivery (cost of the scheme is Rs.371.193 million).
The ruling party Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf (PTI) after missing the constitutional deadline is still reluctant to conduct local government elections in provinces as apparently it faces many challenges.
The PTI has already missed the constitutional deadline for holding the LG elections within 120 days. As section-219 (4) of the Elections Act 2017 states that the fresh elections for new local government representatives must be conducted within 120 days after the expiry of the previous term.
The previous local governments completed their term on August 28 and the government is yet to fulfil its responsibility by holding the LG elections on time.
Besides many other challenges, the ruling party has been facing a tough time from its allies in Punjab Assembly after the PML-Q leader Moonis Elahi had expressed reservations over the new local bodies system in the province.
In a meeting, the premier was briefed on the progress in the implementation of local government system. The meeting was attended by Chief Minister of Punjab Sardar Usman Buzdar, Punjab Law Minister Raja Basharat, Punjab Finance Minister Makhdoom Hashim Jawan Bakht, Punjab Chief Secretary Naseem Yousuf Khokhar, Chairman Planning and Development Habibur Rehman, provincial secretaries and other senior officers.
The prime minister was given briefing on the Punjab Municipal Services Programme. The senior officers of the local government and community development department apprised him on planning in this regard. The programme about local bodies elections on lower tier was also discussed, the sources added.
Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday while unveiling new plan of municipal system said that the new local bodies system has been devised after studying international models.
Interacting with senior journalists in Islamabad on Monday, he said that village council will be elected directly and funds will be transferred to village councils directly.
Giving details of the new Punjab Local Government Act 2019, Imran Khan said a direct election would be held in 22,000 village councils in Punjab, for equal distribution of revenue and indiscriminate development of the entire province.
"People need governance," Prime Minister Imran Khan said and added that the new concept was brought to the fore after lengthy deliberations and study of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa local government system and similar systems in vogue internationally.
He said it was for the first time that the federal government was handing over its powers to the local bodies. "Our cities are like a heap of rubble ... we want our cities to grow and develop, like those in the rest of the world. We want them to generate their own funds and manage issues on their own."
Imran Khan said under the new law passed by Punjab, the mayor of a city, town and tehsil would be elected directly - in a first in South Asia. He said under the new system a mayor would be required to get a direct mandate from a large number of voters. Mayor of London Sadiq Khan received one million votes, while Erdogan also received a million votes to become mayor of Istanbul.