SC dismayed over attempts to prolong holding of LG polls in cantonment areas

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The court also decided to proceed against Defence Secretary retired Lt Gen Asif Yasin Malik on Feb 20 for committing its contempt. — File Photo by Reuters
The court also decided to proceed against Defence Secretary retired Lt Gen Asif Yasin Malik on Feb 20 for committing its contempt. — File Photo by Reuters

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court expressed on Thursday disappointment over what it perceived as foot dragging by the government in holding the local government elections in the cantonment boards.

At the last hearing on Jan 16, the court had conditionally allowed extension in the functioning of 43 cantonment boards till Feb 6 and declined the government’s request to grant them another year to continue public services like approving building plans and development projects under Section 14(1b) of the Cantonment Boards Act, 1924.

On Thursday, a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Tassaduq Hussain Jillani expressed dismay over attempts to delay holding of the local government elections because of the reason that the government was contemplating amending the Cantonment Act, 1924, and the Cantonment Local Government Election Ordinance, 2002.

The court had taken up a 2009 petition of a former vice president of the cantonment board, Quetta, Advocate Raja Rab Nawaz who had challenged non-holding of local bodies’ elections in different cantonment boards.

Not satisfied with the state of affairs, the court called Attorney General Salman Aslam Butt to assist it and deplored that the local government elections in the cantonment areas had not been held since 1998 when the holding of polls had been mandated by the Constitution in terms of Article 140A as required by the Principles of Policy enshrined in the Constitution in Article 32.

The court also decided to proceed against Defence Secretary retired Lt Gen Asif Yasin Malik on Feb 20 for committing its contempt.

On Nov 5, a bench had indicted the defence secretary for not honouring his undertaking to hold the LG elections in the cantonment boards by Sept 15.