ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court Friday issued contempt notice to incumbent Secretary Ministry of Defence for not complying the court orders repeatedly to hold Local Government (LG) elections in the Cantonments.
The court also ordered Advocate Generals of all the provinces to present their governments’ clear stance about holding of LG polls in the provinces on October 14, 2013. “Prima facie we are of the opinion that neither the federal government nor the provincial governments are willing to hold LG polls.” But they are bound to implement Article 140A of the Constitution,” the court said.
The notice to Secretary Defence Lt-Gen (retd) Asif Yasin Malik has been issued under Article 204 of the constitution read with section 17 (3) of Contempt of Court Ordinance, 2003, for not holding the LB polls in Cantonment areas despite the commitments. The incumbent defence secretary twice had given undertaking to the apex court about holding of LG elections in the Cantonments. On 2nd July 2013 he gave commitment; “Process of election in all Cantonment Boards will be completed on or before September 15, 2013.” Despite undertaking no action was taken and the Secretary Defence moved another application for extension of the time.
The court in its order on 3.01.2013, while deciding Constitution Petition No.65/09, observed that in the Cantonment Boards, the process of the election has been suspended for the last about 14 years on one pretext or the other from time to time by pressing into service the provision of section 14(1)(b) of the Cantonments Act, 1924. Lately, the benefit of this provision was availed for a period of one year from 5.05.2012 to 05.05.2013, whereas such provision of law can only be pressed into service subject to the conditions laid down therein. In view of such situation, on behalf of Federation of Pakistan through Secretary Defence, it was pointed out that the period of extension/variation of the Cantonment Boards was going to an end on 05.05.2013.
During the proceedings, the chief justice inquired from the secretary whether after 5th May 2013 further extension was granted in that setup. He replied ‘No’. The court questioned then how they could run the affairs and the funds of the Cantt Boards. Justice Jawwad stated: “You have made mockery with the court and your attitude is contumacious.”
The secretary informed that he had given the undertaking according to his belief but holding of election was not in his control. The chief justice asked him to tell the name of that person who did not want LG polls in the cantonment areas. “You people are not used to uphold the constitution,” the CJP said. “When ex-PM Yousaf Raza Gillani could be disqualified for not obeying the court order then why not you,” he added.
The secretary was order to place on record the notification explaining as to whether after 05.05.2013 extension in the variation in terms of the Section 14(1)(b) of the Act, 1924 after passing of order by this Court on 03.01.2013 has been obtained, if not so, under which authority, without elections, elected body affairs’ of the Cantonment Boards are being run. Attorney General for Pakistan Munir A Malik had been issued notice to act as Prosecutor General in the Yasin contempt case.
Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, heading a three-member bench comprising Justice Jawwad S Khawaja and Justice Gulzar Ahmed, was hearing Raja Rab Nawaz petition regarding elections in Cantonment Board areas. The petitioner has demanded that the election should be held in the Cantonment areas of Quetta, in accordance with Local Government Act 1924.
The chief justice questioned why the Defence Ministry has not fulfilled its constitutional obligation therefore now he should be ready to face the consequence, as repeatedly the court orders have been violated? Mr Yasin replied that he had to get approval from the Prime Minister.
Justice Jawwad asked him why he was scared of following the law, saying you (secretary) are the government. The judge remarked that holding of LG elections was not in the interest of the court; as judges do not want to contest the elections, but they only wanted that the constitution was followed.
Earlier, the court was informed that the committee, constituted by the Prime Minister, has approved the Cantonment (Amendment) Ordinance, 2013, but waiting for the GHO response. The court noted that holding of LG elections in the Cantonment areas is not the security issue.
The case was adjourned till October 25, 2013.
About LB polls in the provinces, the court said it is our considered opinion that after having dissolved the Local Bodies on 09.01.2010 (Balochistan), 30.01.2010 (KPK), 23.02.2010 (Punjab) and 24.02.2010 (Sindh), all the provincial governments had no option but to enforce the provision of Article 140A of the Constitution.
It said all the provincial governments are adopting such other measures including the requirements of the elected representative, who have completed their terms by making appropriate amendment in the relevant laws either through Ordinance or Acts of the Assemblies because non-enforcement/non-adherence of the constitutional provisions as it has been pointed hereinabove time and again is not possible and all the citizens and functionaries in terms of Article 5 of the Constitution had no option but to follow the Constitution.
The case is adjourned till October 14, 2013 and would be heard in Lahore Registry. The notice was issued to the Secretary Election Commission of Pakistan to explain as to why the process of the election has not commenced so far, if any request has been received from any of the government.