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Detailed judgment: Local bodies vital for democracy: SC

Updated Jul 06, 2013 06:50am
Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry. — File Photo
Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry. — File Photo

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court issued on Friday a detailed judgment about extending the deadline for holding local government (LG) elections in the areas falling under the jurisdiction of cantonment boards, and stressed that the local government was the most vital ingredient of a democracy.

“Existence of local bodies is important for strengthening the process of democracy,” said the verdict authored by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry. “The establishment of democratic institutions at grass-root level is a basic requirement for the welfare of the society.”

On July 2, a three-judge bench had set Sept 15 as new deadline for holding local bodies’ elections in the areas whose municipal affairs are run by cantonment boards and expressed confidence that the provincial governments and the Islamabad administration would also make arrangements to hold similar elections as soon as possible.

In the detail verdict, the court said that the local government system was based on the recognition that the only way to respond to the needs of individuals was to associate them with the process of authority. Essentially, the institutions at local/grass-roots levels protected human dignity of common man, it said, explaining that local or municipal government was a form of public administration that existed as the lowest tier of administration in a district.

The question of municipal autonomy was a key question of public administration and governance, the verdict stressed.

In general, local government was responsible for decision-making in those policy areas which had a direct impact on the lives of local people, e.g. urban regeneration, housing, education, employment and social security, health, arts, culture and sports, public transport, water and energy and regional planning, it said.

In those areas local people must have the opportunity to exert direct influence on policy-makers and thus participate in the decision-making process. Thus, local self-government not only had a legal and a political dimension but also sociological connotations since it directly affected community life, the verdict said. Over recent years, local self-government had been playing a vital role in ensuring good governance and community development, it said. On the one hand the local bodies provided services to the local community and, on the other, they acted as an instrument of democratic self-government, the judgment said.

The existence of local self-government provided mechanism for enforcement of fundamental rights of people, it said, adding that local government had always been appreciated by people because it remained within their approach and as such they got involved in the decision-making process.

Comments (2) Closed

NK Ali
Jul 06, 2013 10:25am

The judgement of the Supreme Court should be put in a tablet form; in bold letters, at the entrance of the provincial assemblies. Additionally, the Federal Government must make it compulsory to implement the decision of the Supreme Court by the stipulated date or face contempt of court proceedings. The related article of the 18th amendment on autonomy of provincial assemblies can be suspended by the House/Supreme Court where Local Bodies is concerned. The Supreme Court judgement not only sheds light but also floodlights a basic human need for maintenance of public order and development. Salams

Haji Ashfaq
Jul 06, 2013 11:48am

The CJ of Pak, admits that democracy at the grass-root level is important for the welfare of the society. It was FM Ayub Khan who introduced the system of Basic Democracy and another dictator Gen Musharraf endorsed it. Yet the incompetent and highly corrupt Politicians curse them ! These Munafiqs could also see at Mangla and Tarbela Dams which were built during the times the Doctator.These Politicians are self-servers and have utterly failed to deliver despite repeatedely elected. The idea is not bad but the way it is practiced and implemented. Niyat hi kharab ho to Quran ki ayyat ko bhi mis-interprete kar dia jata hai.May God help this country.

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