Restoration of LBs

33

THE Supreme Court has ultimately undone a wrong committed by the concerned authorities by ordering restoration of the local government system in Punjab, declaring Section-3 of the Punjab Local Government Act 2019 as ultravires to the Constitution.

A three-member bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed allowed petitions challenging the Act and declared that the LBs would complete their term in accordance with law.

Local governments were functioning properly and contributing towards resolution of the day-to-day problems of the citizens but these were dissolved by the provincial government through a piece of legislation that has been declared as violation of the constitutional provisions.

The SC order provides partial relief to the petitioners as no remedy has been provided for the malafide action of the Punjab Government that disenfranchised 55,000 elected representatives for 21 months.

The LB institutions in Punjab would complete their term in December 2021, meaning that they have just eight months at their disposal and given the prevailing political polarization it is unlikely that they would be allowed to function smoothly.

Who is responsible for the loss of 21 long months, which also amounted to denial of an opportunity to the citizens to get their problems resolved? It is also ironic that the petitioners knocked the doors of the high court immediately but the court could not dispose of their petitions either way.

This speaks volumes about the functioning of our judicial system in which even priority issues are handled casually contributing to the notorious saying of justice delayed is justice denied.

The Supreme Court verdict is, however, appreciable as it would force the authorities concerned to expedite implementation of their plans for holding of fresh elections in the province, which were delayed on lame excuses.

In the first place, justice demands the remaining period of the LBs should also include 21 months of illegal dissolution and if this is not possible for some valid justification then arrangements should be in place for holding fresh elections immediately on completion of the term in December 2021.