THE EXPRESS TRIBUNE, LAHORE, 04th OCTOBER 2013:
The Lahore High Court has disposed of a petition seeking directions to the government to hold local elections, after the Punjab government assured the court that the polls would be held on or before December 14.
A division bench headed by Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial was hearing a petition filed by Asghar Ali Shah, who submitted that the government had not held local elections for five years, despite repeated instructions from the courts to do so.
Appearing before the court on Thursday, a law officer representing the government submitted in writing that the elections would be held on or before December 14. The court then disposed of the petition.
Local Govt Act
Meanwhile, another bench headed by the chief justice, hearing petitions challenging the Punjab Local Government Act of 2013, remarked that political parties had a right to take part in the local elections.
The court issued notice to the Election Commission and other respondents to reply by October 9.
Advocate Sardar Latif Khosa, representing the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), submitted that party-less elections would result in horse-trading, nepotism and corruption. Besides, not allowing parties to participate would be illegal and unconstitutional, he added.
The PPP has asked the court to strike down the Act, arguing that several sections of it went against provisions of the Constitution stating that powers must be devolved to the local level.
The other petitioners include the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI). The party’s lawyer argued that the Act gave the Punjab government the power to decide whether the elections should be held on a party or party-less basis, which was illegal. The Punjab government was also involved in delimiting constituencies, though this was the job of the Election Commission. He asked the court to direct the government to conduct local elections quickly and on a party basis.
The PTI petitioners submitted that party-less elections went against the spirit of the law and democracy. They too asked the court to strike down the Punjab Local Government Act of 2013.