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ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court expressed annoyance over the Punjab government's failure to restore the local government system in the province. A two-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed, on Friday, heard the contempt petition against the Punjab government to restore the local governments in the province despite, the Court order. The bench summoned the incumbent Punjab Chief Secretary Kamran Afzal and former chief secretary Jawad Rafique Malik on the next hearing. The case was adjourned till Wednesday.

The Supreme Court on March 25, 2021 had restored local governments in the Punjab and declared Section 3 of the Punjab Local Government Act, 2019, ultra vires of the Constitution. The Punjab provincial government on 4 May 2019 promulgated Punjab Local Government Act, 2019, and under Section 3 of the Act, the Local Governments were dissolved across the province.

The Punjab Secretary Local Government, Noorul Ameen, appeared before the bench. When the CJP inquired what measures had been taken by the government to restore the local bodies. The secretary sought time to engage the lawyer. The CJP expressed displeasure at this and said that despite being a local government secretary, the official did not know about the local bodies. "Have you come to the court to have fun," the CJP asked. "We will send you straight to jail from the court," he warned.

The CJP said they had restored local bodies in Punjab in March, adding the local bodies' term will expire in December this year. He then inquired from the Lahore Mayor Mubashir Javed what the local representatives have done so far. He replied, "We met on the street as per the order of the court." He said that the Punjab government did not facilitate the workings of local bodies. The meeting and work of local body representatives have been covered in the media, he added.

The chief justice admonished him, saying the representatives of the local bodies were not interested in working on their own. "Go around the world and see how local bodies work. If you wanted to work, you would have done it, while sitting on the streets," he added. The mayor Lahore responded that they cannot even afford a cleaner. "If you don't know the job description, you all can sit at home," Justice Gulzar said, adding that the local government officials do not have the "passion" to work.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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