PESHAWAR, July 19: A proposed regulation to establish and regulate municipal committees in tribal areas gives vast powers to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa governor to dissolve an elected local council and remove its chairman, vice chairman or any elected member from the office.

The administration department of Fata Secretariat has finalised the draft called Federally Administrated Tribal Areas Local Government Regulation, 2012, which would be promulgated in the whole Fata after seeking input from the stakeholders, officials said.

The draft also proposes that the governor should specify whether a ward would be multi-member or single-member. The proposed law envisages only a single-tier of local bodies in the shape of a municipal committee on a town level.

The document says that purpose of the proposed regulation is to introduce, regulate and establish local municipal bodies in Fata and for this purpose embed the system in law. The sources said that the president and governor had given their consent to the proposed regulation comprising 110 sections and three schedules. However, instead of holding general discussion and involving elected representatives, the draft has been put on the civil secretariat’s website to seek input of general public and other stakeholders.

Earlier, former military regime of Gen Pervez Musharraf had introduced Agency Council system in Fata in 2004. These councils which had the role of consultative forums to discuss development activities and other subjects were dissolved after completing their first term. Political agents were given sweeping powers to preside over session of these councils and nominate 30 per cent members of each council.

Main functions of the proposed local councils include monitoring sanitation, removal and dumping of refuse, public health, water supply, drainage, food and drink, livestock, public safety, municipal planning, building control, streets, traffic vehicles, agriculture and sports and culture.

The proposed draft gives immense powers to the governor who under section 16 may remove chairman, vice-chairman, or a member from office after giving him an opportunity of being heard.

Conditions for the removal of a member, chairman and vice chairman are; if he absents himself without reasonable cause from three consecutive meetings of the local council, guilty of abuse of power or misconduct or maladministration, refuses to take oath under article 31 or generally acts in a manner prejudicial to public interest.

Any office-holder under sub-article (1) may, within 30 days of the order of removal, file a review petition to governor, whereupon the governor may pass such orders as he may deems fit.

Similarly, if the governor is satisfied that continuation in office of office-holders of a local council is no longer in public interest, he may dissolve a local council before expiry of the residual term of its respective offices on such a date as he deems fit.

Section 5 of the regulation says that the governor may, by notification, extend, curtail or otherwise alter the limits of a local area and declare that any area shall cease to be a local area. Section 6 gives power to the governor to divide a local area into such number of wards having a definite boundary as he may determine for the purposes of election.

Section 4 of the proposed regulation suggests the governor may, by order, provide for the removal of any difficulty which may arise in giving effect to the provisions of this regulation.

According to the draft, election of members of all local councils shall be held on the basis of adult franchise and joint electorate through secret ballot.

About the term of office and election of chairman or vice chairman, section 13 says that the term of a local council shall be four years commencing on the date on which it holds its first meeting. On the expiry of the term of office of a local council, the governor may appoint any person for three months to perform such functions of the local council as may be specified.

Every chairman, vice chairman, and member shall, after taking oath of office, declare his assets in the manner prescribed. A local council with the approval of the governor may allow such honoraria and allowances to its chairman and vice-chairman, as may be prescribed.  The draft proposes formation of an election tribunal for hearing of an election petition. The Election Authority shall, by notification, appoint an officer to be an election tribunal for such areas as may be specified in the notification.

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