LAHORE - Punjab Assembly yesterday approved amendments in the Local Government Act to specify the procedure for election of mayors, deputy mayors and special seats in the districts.

Opposition boycotted Assembly proceedings during the legislation as it sought three days for its recommendations on the new amendments and the Treasury did not oblige.

According to the procedure laid down in the new provisions of the Local Government Act, the election of mayors and the deputy mayors would be conducted through division of the assembly members as is the case in respect of election of chief minister in the provincial assemblies. Election on special seats would be undertaken through show of hand.

Special seats would be allocated to the political parties on the basis of number of seats they have got in the local councils. This is in line with the mechanism adopted for the national and the provincial assemblies.

Earlier, when the Speaker started the official business of legislation, the opposition members rose on their seats and started making noise while Siddique Kkan was allowed to speak. He pleaded that it was an important piece of legislation and the Opposition should be given at least three days to consider the bill and put forward its recommendations.

Law Minister Rana Sana Ullah rejected the plea saying that new amendments had already been made public through an ordinance and the opposition had already challenged these in the court after making public statements on the matter now under consideration of the House. He said the Opposition had three days to present its proposals on floor of the House but it did not. Two opposition members in the standing committee had also been informed to attend its meeting on new legislation but they did not turn up, he added.

Following law minister’s assertion that the Opposition will not be given more time to consider the bill, its members walked out of the House to register their protest. They gathered outside the Assembly premises to express their resentment over attitude of the Treasury.

Earlier, during the question hour, Dr Wasim Akhtar of Jamat-e-Islami said that according to the constitution, sale and consumption of liquer was not allowed in the country. Even the non-Muslims say the consumption of liquer was not permissible in their religion, he asserted. He also wanted to know if the income generated through sale of liquer was Halal or Haram and if the government had any intention to ban its sale by enactment of a law.

Provincial Minister for Excise and Taxation, Mujtaba Shujaur Rehman said that liquer was sold only to the non-Muslims and the foreigners. He further said the law minister, who was not present at that time, was the right person to inform the House if the government had any intention to stop the sale of liquer through legislation. The minister also asked if the minorities were against the sale of liquer then why did they apply for license to purchase this drink.