LAHORE - The Punjab government on Tuesday told the Lahore High Court that it had formed a committee to decide in two weeks whether to allow the celebration of Basant festival or not. The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Tuesday sought reply from Punjab chief secretary, local bodies’ secretary and deputy commissioner till January 24 in various identical petitions filed against lifting 12-year-old ban on Basant celebrations in the Punjab province.

Justice Aminud Din observed that in case, after the recommendations of the committee, the Punjab government decides to grant permission to celebrate the festival, the court will decide the case on merit.

Further, the court issued notices to Punjab govt and IG Punjab as well as Lesco and directed the office to combine all the interconnected petitions and fix before the court for 24th. The court observed that the issue is of public importance.

One of the petition was filed by concerned citizen Aiyza Javaid through Sheraz Zaka Advocate challenging the Punjab Prohibition of Kite Flying Ordinance 2001 under which the Punjab govt has been conferred the discretionary powers to grant permission to allow kite flying activities.

The petitioner’s counsel contended that kite flying activity is an infringement to the fundamental rights. The supreme Court in its judgment had already declared kite flying activity and celebration of the festival violation of the fundamental rights.

He pleaded that in 2009, the Punjab govt made an amendment to the law to grant itself authority to allow kite flying activity without delineating a criteria. Hence the petition has been filed to enforce fundamental rights of citizens including right of life and right of protection of property, he said.

In the petition, Punjab government and Lahore Electric Supply Company (Lesco) have been made respondents. Kite flying festival not only results in loss of lives but also loss of electricity transmission. hence it must be banned and the powers granted to the govt under the law to permit kite flying activity be declared ultra vires and unconstitutional, the petitioner pleaded.  Earlier, the government lawyer told the court that no permission to celebrate Basant has been given until now while a committee has been formed to take this decision.