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LAHORE: The Lahore High Court on Monday sought reply from the Punjab government on a petition filed by Faisalabad mayor seeking annulment of several provisions of the Punjab Local Government Ordinance 2021 that envisage dissolution of existing local bodies till Jan 1, 2022 and the use of the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) in the next polls in the province.

“The ruling party in Punjab with a mala fide intention is trying to bring a system of local government according to its own whims and wishes, which can be controlled and influenced by its alone,” mayor Razzaq Malik pleaded through his counsel Awais Khalid.

He submitted that the current Government changed the faces of the elected representatives at first through the Act of 2019 indirectly which cannot be done directly and now the whole election scheme is being disrupted through the impugned ordinance, adding that under the impugned law the chief minister has been given powers to take decisions or actions according to his own whims making the local government system redundant.

The mayor stated that a new scheme of voting method through the EVMs have been imposed in the new law without an approval from the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) that already shows reservations on the use of machines.

He argued that the right of vote has been abbreviated as polling through technology without a proper training of the voters and even illiterate voters just to dictate the whole election process is against the spirit of free and fair elections.

The petitioner contended that the impugned actions of the government are ultra vires to the Constitution as the will of the people and their right to vote has been snatched by introducing provisions for the appointment of non-elected persons in the offices of local government.

He asked the court to set aside the impugned provisions of the ordinance for being in violation of the Constitution.

After hearing preliminary arguments, the court asked advocate general Punjab to submit the government’s reply and assist it on December 23.

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