ISLAMABAD           -        The Islamabad High Court (IHC) Thursday granted time to Minister of State for Climate Change Zartaj Gul and Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam to submit replies in a contempt of court case related to the death of animals at the Marghazar Zoo of the federal capital.

A single bench of IHC comprising Chief Justice of IHC Justice Athar Minallah conducted hearing of the matter pertaining to the show-cause notices for contempt of court proceedings against the Minister of Climate Change and Wildlife Management Board members. During the hearing, Justice Athar remarked that animals are not meant to be kept in cages or zoos. He added that how would you feel if someone locked you up in a cage for even two hours. The IHC CJ further said that men have no right to be cruel towards those who cannot speak for themselves.

The court observed that everyone comes to take credit but no one takes responsibility when animals die. He stated that they have even heard that some wildlife officials steal the food kept for animals. It maintained that the court would first determine who is responsible for the deaths of two lions in Islamabad Zoo.

Justice Athar stated that new Wildlife Board was not printed in the gazette and prime minister is a member of the board according to the old notification but he would not be even aware of what happened at the zoo. Chairman Capital Development Authority (CDA) requested the court to accept his unconditional apology and withdraw the show-cause notice served to him. Justice Athar said that influential board members make junior workers scapegoats.

He said that the Ministry for Climate Change took the responsibility but stepped back when things went wrong. Later, the bench deferred the hearing till September 25 for further proceedings in this regard.  The court had started contempt of court proceedings after two lions had died while being transferred from Islamabad’s Marghazar Zoo to a farmhouse in Lahore. The case was registered under Section 5 of the Animal Act 1990. The law punishes people for killing any animal in an unnecessarily cruel manner.

Those convicted under the law must pay a fine of Rs200 and can be imprisoned for up to six months. The FIR stated that the caretakers beat the pair with sticks and lit a fire in their cage to knock them unconscious instead of using a tranquilizer.

Then, the registrar office of the IHC served show-cause notices to Minister of State for Climate Change Zartaj Gul, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam, former PML-N ministers Tariq Fazal Chaudhry and Mariyyum Aurangzeb, Capital Development Authority Chairman Amer Ali Ahmed, Islamabad Mayor Anser Aziz Sheikh and several others in connection with the death of lions being shifted from Islamabad’s Marghazar Zoo.

Others served notices included Climate Change Secretary Naheed S. Durrani, Parliamentary Secretary Rukhsana Naveed, Chief Metropolitan Officer Syeda Shafaq Hashmi, Inspector General of Forests Suleman Khan, Punjab Forest and Wildlife Secretary Mohammad Asif, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Forestry Secretary Shahidullah, Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed, Zahid Baig Mirza, Aitzazuddin, Vaqar Zakria, Islamabad Wildlife Management Board (IWMB) Chairman Dr Anisur Rehman, Dr Ghulam Akbar of the World Wildlife Federation and advocate Tariq Hassan.