LG polls: SC issues contempt notice to defence secretary
12 October, 2013
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Friday issued contempt of court notice to Defence Secretary Asif Yasin Malik for not holding local bodies' election in the cantonment board areas as per its directions.
The court also served notices on attorney general (AG) and all advocates general of the provinces directing them to present a clear viewpoint of the governments regarding holding of local bodies' elections, on October 14 at the Lahore Registry.
The notice to the defence secretary was issued during the hearing of a case regarding the holding of local bodies' elections in all the cantonment board areas in the country. The case was heard by a three-judge bench led by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and comprising Justice Jawwad S Khawaja and Justice Gulzar Ahmad. The court observed that the defence secretary had twice failed to fulfil his commitment to the court which is tantamount to the contempt of court.
The court issued contempt notice to him and directed the attorney general to be his prosecutor in filing of the reply. The apex court directed Malik to submit his written reply within seven days. However, the defence secretary sought more time as the Eidul Azha is around the corner and offices would be closed for holidays. The court allowed him to submit his reply within next ten days. The defence secretary had earlier told the court that despite his commitment, holding of the elections in cantonment areas across the country was beyond his control.
He apprised the bench that he had informed the prime minister about the complications causing delay in local bodies' elections in cantonment areas and had also kept the attorney general of Pakistan updated about the progress continuously. However, Chief Justice Iftikhar observed that no progress has been made over elections in the cantonment board areas. The case was adjourned until October 25.
The Supreme Court also issued notices to the attorney general (AG) and all provincial advocates general during the hearing of the case regarding conduct of local bodies' elections throughout the country. The chief justice remarked that the government should be clear if it was reluctant to hold the elections, so that law could take its course. He warned that non-conduct of the elections would amount to a violation of the constitution.
Although Additional Attorney General (AAG) Shah Khawar categorically stated that no one could think of violating the constitution, the chief justice said that neither the federal nor the provincial governments were willing to hold the local bodies' elections. Khawar said it could be the court's viewpoint but not of the government, saying there was no intentional delay by the administration.
The apex court also issued notice to Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) asking it to explain why election was not held if the department had received a request from the government. The bench adjourned further hearing of this case until October 14. The chief justice would now hear the case at the Lahore Registry of the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court had on September 26 warned that if the provincial governments and Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) authority failed to hold local government elections after Muharram then it might ask them to hold the elections under the old system. A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, while hearing the local bodies' elections case, had said that it could not allow anyone to make the constitution non-effective. The court asked the counsels to provide the details of old local government polls of their respective provinces. The chief justice said that the masses at the grass roots level must be allowed to participate in the democratic setup.
"This is only be possible if the local government polls are held," he added. Justice Iftikhar said the local bodies system would be helpful in controlling dacoities, theft and terrorism, especially in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan. Chief Justice Iftikhar had remarked that the local bodies' elections are the only source of public representation at grass roots level. He reaffirmed that courts did not have any intention to derail the system, but betterment is coming and system should prevail.
"Political parties gain votes in the name of the constitution of Pakistan and after coming into power it becomes their duty to protect the constitution," the chief justice had remarked. He categorically stated that courts would not allow any one to violate the constitution.