ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has set May 29 as the date for holding the first phase of local government polls in Punjab.

A decision to this effect was taken at a meeting of the ECP held here on Wednesday with Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja in the chair.

In the first phase, LG polls will be held in Dera Ghazi Khan, Rajanpur, Muzzafargarh, Layyah, Khanewal, Vehari, Bahawalpur, Sahiwal, Pakpattan, Toba Tek Singh, Khushab, Sialkot, Gujrat, Hafizabad, Mandi Bahauddin, Jhelum and Attock.

The PTI-led provincial government had dissolved local bodies constituted under the Punjab Local Government Act (PLGA), 2013, in May 2019, soon after coming to power.

However, while taking up petitions filed by the then local governments’ representatives, the Supreme Court issued a short order on March 25 last year, declaring the PLGA 2019’s Section 3 ultra vires of the Constitution.

The Usman Buzdar administration in Punjab had reluctantly restored the local bodies in the province in October last year to comply with the Supreme Court’s order subject to the outcome of its petitions seeking a review of the judgement.

The local government department consequently notified: “Pursuant to the short order dated March 25, 2021, of the Supreme Court and the detailed judgement in July 2021 and notifications of constitution of local governments under the PLGA, 2019, are hereby withdrawn with immediate effect, subject to outcome of review petitions filed by the Punjab government, pending adjudication in the Supreme Court.”

As the PTI government had recreated the local governments and appointed local government administrators on May 4, 2019, some 30 months ahead of completion of the tenure of LG representatives mostly belonging to the PML-N, the local government department had reverted the local governments’ transition to the PLGA, 2013, in line with the Supreme Court’s order.

Following a detailed judgement of the Supreme Court issued in July last year, the Punjab government restored the local governments under PLGA, 2013, on Oct 18 and the former LG representatives had taken over their offices.

The former LG representatives’ tenure eventually concluded on Dec 31 and the Punjab government notified the dissolution of local governments in the province and appointed administrators till the election of new representatives.

Published in Dawn, February 17th, 2022

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