LAHORE: As the Punjab government continues delaying implementation of the March 25 order on the pretext of ‘waiting for a detailed judgment’, mayors, district councils’ chairmen and others have finally decided to file a contempt petition against the government for not handing over the charge of the local bodies offices to them.

As many as 17 mayors and district council’s chairmen, led by Lahore mayor retired Col Mubashir Javed, are set to file a contempt petition by next week, Dawn has learnt.

“We have been left with no option but to move a contempt petition in the Supreme Court in the next few days against the Punjab government,” the Lahore mayor told Dawn on Saturday.

On March 25, a three-member bench, headed by the chief justice of Pakistan, had ordered restoration of the local government institutions in Punjab, terming section 3 of the local government act-2019 ultra vires to the constitution.

“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 to the constitution and the local governments as were existing in the province of Punjab prior to promulgation of the said section stands restored and it shall complete its term in accordance with law,” reads the short order.

According to Mr Mubashir, he had a discussion with three lawyers about the case and all were unanimous that there was no ambiguity in the short order as it is absolutely clear.

“The lawyers were of the view that the government should have restored the LG institutions soon after the court order rather than waiting for the detailed judgment. They were also of the view that detailed judgment is awaited when there is no clarity in the short order. And since it is clear, the government must implement this,” the mayor said.

Mr Mubashir said the elected local bodies’ representatives fulfilled their obligation by visiting the LG institutions, requesting the government (verbally as well as in writing) to hand over the charge to them, but no one bothered.

It merits mentioning that a number of mayors, chairmen and other elected local bodies representatives had on March 31 organised a meeting in Lahore and announced taking charge of their offices on their own in the light of the SC verdict.

On April 6, the local representatives reached Town Hall for taking charge of their offices and holding a session, but the government stopped them from doing so.

However, the representatives held the assembly session on the Town Hall lawns and termed the government’s move unconstitutional, unlawful and contempt of the court order. Some of the representatives, after the session, also tried to break the locks of the offices, including the district assembly, but the police foiled their bid.

Published in Dawn, April 11th, 2021

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