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LAHORE, Sept 16: The Lahore High Court (LHC) chief justice on Monday issued notices to the Election Commission of Pakistan and the Punjab government in petitions by the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and others challenging the Punjab Local Government Law of 2013.

Former governor Sardar Latif Khosa appeared on behalf of the PPP while Advocate Tayab Husain Rizvi represented the PTI. Manzoor Wattoo of the PPP also attended the proceedings.

Mr Rizvi argued that the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz-led Punjab government wanted to establish dictatorial rule in the province through the newly-passed local government law. He said the new law envisaged a non-party local government polls which was a clear violation of the Constitution.

Advocate Khosa argued that local council polls on a non-party basis were also against the democratic norms. He said if non-party elections were held, the law and order situation in the province would be more worsened.

When asked by the court as to why the PPP remained failed to hold local government election in the province during its five-year tenure, Khosa said holding the local government election was exclusively the responsibility of the provincial government, and the PML-N government violated the Constitution by not holding the polls.

Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial remarked that the court would fix the election date if the provincial government failed to do so.

The chief justice admitted petitions of both political parties for regular hearing and directed the ECP and the government to submit a reply by Sept 25.

Petitioners had submitted that the Punjab Assembly on Aug 21 passed the law for holding local council polls on a non-party basis. They said the law was passed by the treasury after turning down amendments, including party-based elections, suggested by the opposition.

They stated national and provincial assemblies in the country had been established as a result of party-based general election, therefore, conducting non-party local elections would be against the basic spirit of the Constitution.

Parties maintained that certain clauses of the Punjab local government law were contrary to the Constitution and such elections would lead to corruption and nepotism in society.

Petitioners prayed to the court to strike down the Local Government Law of 2013 to the extent of holding polls on a non-party basis being unconstitutional. They further urged the court to order the Punjab government to hold local body polls on a party basis without any delay.