LAHORE - City Mayor Col (R) Mubashar Javed on Friday filed a petition in the Supreme Court, asking the court to empower the local governments in Punjab, especially the Municipal Corporation of Lahore (MCL), to exercise their powers vis-à-vis political, administrative and financial matters.

In the petition he filed through Mubeenuddin Qazi Advocate, the Lahore mayor contended that the respondents had not handed over to the MCL and other local government departments the administrative control of the authorities and public sector companies established by the provincial government for exercising the exclusive powers and functions of the local governments.

In the petition, he has cited the following as respondents: Punjab government; Local Government & Community Development Department; Housing, Urban Development and Public Health Engineering Department; Lahore Development Authority; and the chief secretary.

These companies include Lahore Development Authority (LDA), Water and Sanitation Agency (WASA), TEPA, Parks and Horticulture Authority (PHA), Lahore Waste Management Company (LWMC), Lahore Parking Company, Cattle Market Companies etc.

The petitioner says that the political, administrative, and financial responsibility and authority devolved on the local governments under Article 140-A of the Constitution and the Punjab Local Government Act, 2013 are not being exercised by the representatives of the local governments in violation of their fundamental rights.

The petition also says that existing local governments are not being allowed to complete their 5-year term from the date they held their first meeting, and until the successor local governments assume their offices, in the public interest.

The petitioner accuses the provincial government and the civil administration of abridging, diluting and impeding the devolved powers and authority of the elected local governments through civil administration or other unelected officials or companies like LDA, WASA, TEPA, PHA, LWMC, Lahore Parking Company, Cattle Market Companies etc.

The petitioner pleads that the civil administrations and the companies have been by-passing the mayors/chairmen through issuance of direct instructions to the officers/staff of the local governments through verbal orders or direct written correspondence instead of addressing the same to the mayors/chairmen who are the executive heads of the local governments.

Through such unconstitutional acts, the petitioner adds, the respondents have been making the local governments dysfunctional by engaging the staff of the local governments with their own offices during most of the time of the office hours, without obtaining prior consent or permission of the mayors/chairmen.

He maintains that the respondents are with malafide withholding the transfer of local government’s funds/grants especially the development funds. These funds are mandatorily required to be disbursed under the determined PFC award share and other receivables to avoid affecting the development work and deterioration of the infrastructure due to non-maintenance.

The Lahore mayor also alleged that they are prohibiting execution of development schemes by the local governments, especially from their own available funds and also issuing frequent transfer and posting orders of the officers of the local governments resulting in practically crippling the local governments. They are also causing harassment to the officers/staff of the MCL and other local governments to procure their non-cooperation with the mayors/chairmen.

The mayor also raised voice against the conducting of unilateral “arbitrary” audit of the local governments before finalising the observations and closing the audit process, as required under the law and the rules.

He also says that the respondents were compelling the LG heads to change political loyalties, by procuring violation of party discipline by the existing elected members of the local governments elected on tickets of other political parties.

He submitted that the Lahore Development Authority be restrained from encroaching upon or interfering with the functions, powers, authority, and responsibility of the MCL in respect of the functions relating to master planning, spatial planning, exercise of land use classification/control, preparation of planning or development scheme and private housing schemes

He also sought restraining order against LG&CD secretary with regard to illegal and unconstitutional exercising of the power and authority of the provincial government under the PLGA 2013, unilaterally,/individually and without getting prior approval of the provincial cabinet.

He further prayed that the contemplated action of the provincial government in proclaiming to dissolve the existing local governments before the completion of their term; and any attempt by the Provincial Government to establish a “new local government system” without taking on board the main stakeholders.