LAHORE: Lahore High Court Chief Justice Muhammad Ameer Bhatti on Friday questioned the delay in local government (LG) elections in Punjab and the legislation by the assembly in this regard.

A two-judge bench headed by the chief justice was hearing petitions regarding the non-provision of development funds to the local government representatives.

At the outset of the hearing, Justice Bhatti observed that apparently the petition stood infructuous since the tenure of the LGs had expired and administrators had been appointed in the province to perform the related functions, asking the counsel for the petitioners to keep this point in mind while advancing their arguments.

Asked about the delay in holding the LG polls, an additional advocate general told the court that the election schedule would be issued once the process of delimitation was completed and committees had been constituted for the purpose.

The law officer further said that the latest version of the Punjab Local Government Ordinance 2021 was promulgated just around a month ago on Dec 13, which caused a “little delay” in the subsequent process.

Chief Justice Bhatti observed that the ordinance would expire in three months after the old law would stand restored once again.

“Would the government issue another ordinance?” the judge asked the law officer.

The chief justice remarked that the provincial government was mocking the Constitution by not making the legislation in time.

“What is the current status of legislation process? Where does this ordinance lie now?” Justice Bhatti asked the law officer. The judge also referred to the rumours of more amendments in the ordinance.

Replying to the CJ’s queries, the law officer said the ordinance was with a standing committee of the Punjab Assembly for scrutiny.

Chief Justice Bhatti observed that the court could not order the government to enact the legislation but wanted to know as to when the law would be passed by the assembly.

The bench adjourned the further hearing till Jan 26 and directed the Punjab advocate general to assist the court in the matter.

Published in Dawn, January 15th, 2022

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