LAHORE - The Lahore High Court last week constituted the Standing Council on Climate Change to act as a link between the court and the executive authorities for enforcement of the National Climate Change Policy and its framework.

Outgoing Chief Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah set up the council in response to a petition moved by agriculturalist Asghar Leghari and dissolved a climate change commission made earlier on the subject matter.

Dr Pervez Hassan will be chairman of the council, while advocate general of Punjab, secretary of the Climate Change Ministry, CEO and national programme director of LEAD Pakistan, chairman of the Planning and Development Department and environment expert Saima Amin Khawaja will be its members.

Dissolving the commission on climate change, the chief justice appreciated the work of the commission. “Constitution and working of the commission resulted in development of a valuable resource on climate change that could be useful for the governments in future,” the Punjab’s top judge observed.

The chief justice directed the federal and provincial governments and the Council of Common Interest (CCI) to entertain and consider the suggestions and proposals given by the council and remain engaged with it.

The CJ termed the framework of the climate change policy, formulation of national water policy and its implementation as important objectives for sustainable development, and inevitable for protection of fundamental rights of the citizens.

The governments have to ensure that the new act is actualised and made effective in letter and spirit, the order passed by the court said.

Leghari had filed the petition, complaining that federal and provincial governments were not taking steps to develop the required resilience to climate change as per “Framework for Implementation of National Climate Change Policy, 2013”.

The petitioner, relying upon the National Climate Change Policy issued by the Ministry of Climate Change in 2012, highlighted that the country had been under serious threat of climate change. He said the most immediate and serious threat to Pakistan was that of water and food security. He said priority items under the Framework 2013 had not been complied with and no action had been taken by the authorities to develop adaptive capacity and resilience to tackle the issue.

The other important matter that was taken up by the Lahore High Court last week was the case of former inspector general of Punjab Police Mushtaq Ahmad Sukhera.

An LHC full bench headed by Justice Abdul Sami Khan expressed dismay over non-appearance of counsel for the Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) in this case.

Justice Sami observed that PAT leaders used to complain to the media that judges were not deciding the cases and here its own lawyer was absent from the court.

The bench adjourned the hearing till Feb 14 and directed the PAT counsel to ensure his appearance in the court. The bench also extended stay granted to the former IG against the summons of the ATC.

Sukhera through his counsel pleaded that the summons were issued on the basis of false information provided to the trial court. He said he had taken charge of his office when the Model Town incident occurred in June 2014.

The former police chief said he had nothing to do with the incident and the PAT filed the private complaint to the ATC with a delay of 21 months. He asked the court to set aside the summons.

Also, the LHC directed a deputy attorney general to come up with arguments on the point whether the court had the jurisdiction to issue any directions to Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) regarding pending references against the judges of the superior courts – a case which is different from other routine cases. Justice Shahid Karim passed the order on the petition moved by Syed Feroze Shah Gillani of the Lawyers Foundation for Justice for enforcement of Article 209 (5) of the Constitution, and seeking a direction for the president and the SJC to conclude inquiries/references pending before it against the judges.

Advocate A.K. Dogar represented the petitioner, arguing that the judges against whom complaints had been made could not be presumed to have been faultless. He contended that the citizens seeking justice from the courts must be assured by quick action against any delinquent judge so that they know that no one was above the law and the judges could also be held accountable.

The counsel argued that every action or inaction inconsistent with the fundamental rights was void in the eye of law. He urged the court to issue an order to the president and the SJC to decide the complaints pending against the sitting judges of the superior courts.

The judge sought arguments from the law officer on maintainability of the petition and adjourned the hearing for two weeks.

The LHC also issued notice to the federal government and others on a petition seeking directives for the legislature to make a law to publicly hang paedophiles and other culprits involved in child pornography and sexual abuse.

Justice Shahid Jamil Khan passed the order on a petition moved by Barrister Javed Iqbal Jafree and directed the federal law officer to assist the court on the subject. Barrister Jafree had said that increasing incidents of child sexual abuse are a matter of grave concern. Absence of stern punishment for perpetrators was the main reason for rise in such incidents, the lawyer says, adding that those involved in such crimes should be hanged publicly to create deterrence in the society. “There is a need for legislation on child protection. The court is requested to order the federal government to make laws for exemplary punishment to paedophiles and pornographers,” he maintained.  The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) produced a suspect involved in sharing child pornographic content on internet, before a judicial magistrate and obtained his physical remand for four days.

The FIA had taken Taimur Maqsood into custody from Jhang on a complaint moved by National Child Exploitation Centre, Interpol in Canada. The Interpol had told the FIA that the suspect, an electrical engineer, was involved in sharing videos of child pornography with people in the United States, Australia, New Zealand and Canada through internet.

Magistrate Imtiaz Bajwa allowed four-day remand of the suspect to the FIA after an investigating officer told him that the suspect had confessed to his crime and his physical remand was required for further interrogation.

Last week, a sessions court also took up an interesting case in which it allowed a Filipino woman to have custody of her minor son for three days. She had approached the court against her husband who had brought their son to Pakistan without informing her.

Jennifer Batista, a citizen of the Philippines, had moved a habeas corpus petition for the recovery of her 17-month-old son Muhammad Haider from his father Imran Qadir who took the minor to Pakistan without informing the petitioner mother from Kuwait.

Rana Intizar, the petitioner's counsel, told the court that the petitioner married the respondent in Kuwait some two years back as they both worked in the Gulf country. The petitioner, he said, also converted to Islam for the marriage and gave birth to Haider. He said that the respondent and his family kept the petitioner in illegal detention and hurled life threats to her when she came to Pakistan to get her son back.

Batapur police produced the minor before the court after Additional District & Sessions Judge Nadeem Akhter had issued strict warning to the station house officer at the last hearing. After hearing the arguments of the petitioner's counsel, the court allowed interim custody of the minor to the petitioner for three days and asked her counsel to take up the matter with the Philippines embassy in Pakistan.

 

FIDA HUSSNAIN