Local Government Election for Cantonment Boards

-A A +A

Cantonments are permanent military stations – military garrisons earmarked separate areas for troops. The Federal Government can declare any place or places in which any part of the armed forces of Pakistan is quartered or where defence installations or defence production units are located or which, being in the vicinity of any such place is required for the service of such forces, to be a cantonment. There are a total of forty three cantonments in Pakistan.

Before 1864, cantonments in the Sub-Continent used to be administered by the military authorities under various Government Orders. In 1864, for the first time, an Act was adopted for improving the administration of the cantonments and a magistrate was appointed for each cantonment to administer the area. With growing civilian population in cantonment areas, establishment of some sort of local government in these areas became a necessity.

The Cantonments Act, 1924 was the landmark in the history of cantonments as it brought in its wake some sweeping changes. The Act introduced the representative local government system under which elected representatives of the civil population became members of the Cantonment Boards. The Boards were created as autonomous statutory local bodies for providing civil services to civilian population living in cantonment areas.

The powers and functions of the Cantonment Boards are synonymous to Municipal Committees in the cities. The Cantonment Boards, existing in each cantonment, have the power to approve taxes, levies, etc. proposed by the cantonment administration; approve bye-laws prepared by the cantonment administration; approve annual budget for the cantonment administration; approve long and short term development plans for the cantonment; and review the performance of cantonment administration.

The members constituting a Board are both officially nominated as well as elected through direct vote on the basis of adult franchise.

Cantonments are divided into three classes on the basis of their civilian population as per 1998 census. The composition of different categories of cantonments is given below:

Category and No of Cantonments

Class I Cantonments

11

Class II Cantonments

12

Class III Cantonments

20

Civil Population 1998

One hundred thousand or more

Fifty thousand or more but less than one hundred thousand

Less than fifty thousand

Composition of Board

The Cantonment Board of Class I Cantonment will consist of the following:

·      The officer commanding the station (Station Commander);

·      The Health Officer;

·      Maintenance Engineer;

·      A Magistrate of first class nominated by the District Magistrate;

·      Nine civil or military officers nominated by the Station Commander; and

·      Twelve elected members.

The Cantonment Board of Class II Cantonment will consist of the following:

·     The officer commanding the station (Station Commander);

·     The Health Officer;

·     Maintenance Engineer;

·     A Magistrate of first class nominated by the District Magistrate;

·     Four military officers nominated by the Station Commander; and

·     Seven elected members.

The Cantonment Board of Class III Cantonment will consist of the following:

·   The officer commanding the station (Station Commander);

·   The Health Officer;

·   One military officer nominated by the Station Commander (provided that if number of elected members is increased, the number of nominated members shall be one less than the number of elected members); and

·   Two elected members (the number may be increased up to four).

 

Mode of election

The Supreme Court of Pakistan set April 25, 2015 as the date for local government elections in the Cantonment areas. Local government elections will be held in 42 cantonments across the country. Elections are not being held in Ormara Cantonment (Balochistan coast) due to a dispute on the extent of cantonment between Ormara Naval Base authorities and local civil administration. Elections will be held on political party basis.

The Federal Government may reserve a number of seats for women, peasants, workers and minority communities in the Board of a particular cantonment. This number is yet to be notified. A woman, peasant or worker or member of the minority community may contest for election to a general seat in the Board.

The election of members to be elected on general seats of a Board will be held on the basis of single member constituency and adult franchise through secret ballot. Members to the seats reserved for women, peasants, youth, workers and non-Muslims will be elected by members of the Board elected on general seats. The members against seats reserved for women, peasants, youth, workers and non-Muslims will be elected through secret ballot by the directly elected members.

The elected members of the Board will, amongst themselves, elect a Vice-President of that Board through secret ballot. The Station Commander (usually a Brigadier or full Colonel) will be the President of the Cantonment Board.

A person shall qualify to be elected or to hold an office of a local government if he or she, inter alia,

(a)  Is a citizen of Pakistan

(b)  Is not less than twenty five years  of age

(c)  Is enrolled as a voter in the electoral roll of the Ward from which he/she is contesting election and in case of reserved seats is enrolled in any electoral area of that Board,

(d)  Is righteous, sagacious, non-profligate, honest and ameen, there being no declaration to the contrary from a court of law

(e)  Has  not been declared of unsound mind by a competent court

(f)   Is not a defaulter of taxes, utility bills and other financial dues to Federal, provincial or a local government

(g)  Has not been dismissed from public service on grounds of moral turpitude

(h)  Is not a full time salaried official in the Service of the Government or a corporation under the control of the Government, or a local body or Board or any other local authority;

(i)    Has not been sentenced to imprisonment for more than two years for an offence under and law and a period of five years has elapsed since his/her release.

After the promulgation of the recent Cantonments (Amendment) Ordinance, 2015, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) was empowered to hold local government elections in the Cantonment areas. The following schedule has been published on the ECP website:

 

Website of the ECPhttp://ecp.gov.pk/LGcantonment.aspx