The Islamabad High Court Tuesday issued directives to Capital Development Authority (CDA) to make National Park of Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) free from all encroachments of public and private entities without any fear or favour saying, “Needless to mention that no one is above the law”.
Six years ago, the petitioners had invoked the jurisdiction of IHC urging the court’s directives for people at the helm of affairs to enforce regulatory framework in the context of environmental degradation and climate change across the board.
On Tuesday while announcing order in the matter in response to petition 4245/2014, Chief Justice Athar Minallah said, “This court has been informed that the National Park area has been illegally encroached by various private persons and government entities including the Pakistan Air Force and Pakistan Navy”.
He said, “The petitions in hand have raised questions of immense public importance. Dr Pervaiz Hassan, senior ASC, was appointed as a Commission and he has submitted a commendable report highlighting the consequences flowing from failure on part of the respondents to enforce the regulatory framework in the context of environmental degradation and climate change”.
The order stated that the object of enforcing the Islamabad Wildlife (Protection, Preservation, Conservation and Management) Ordinance, 1979 was to provide for protection, preservation, conservation and management of wildlife and setting up of a National Park in the Islamabad Capital Territory.
It has been expressed in the order that the federal government declared the area of the National Park on April 28, 1980, adding likewise, a specified area has been declared as the ‘wildlife sanctuary’ whereas the Board of Wildlife Management has also been established.
Chief Justice Athar Minallah said in order, “Ms Rina Saeed Khan, Chairperson of the Board was asked whether any action has been taken to remove the illegal encroachments and whether proceedings have been initiated against persons including heads of the government entities who had allegedly chosen to take the law in their own hands. She has answered in the negative”.
CJ said, “The inaction on part of the W.P.No.4245 of 2014 public functionaries is beyond comprehension and deprecated because their conduct is exposing future generations to serious consequences due to environmental degradation and climate change”.
The IHC CJ issued directives to Chairman, Capital Development Authority and Chairperson of the Board to fulfill their respective statutory obligations by identifying illegal encroachments of the specified area of the National Park and ensure that they are removed.
“They are also directed to take action in accordance with law against all those persons who have illegally encroached the National Park”, CJ IHC said in order.
He also issued directives to the Secretary, Ministry of Interior to provide assistance to the above functionaries saying, “so the specified area of the National Park is restored and those who have violated its notified limits are held accountable. Needless to mention that no one is above the law”.
CJ IHC said while citing top court verdict in order to substantiate his order, “It is noted that any illegal encroachment or activity in the specified area of the National Park is in violation of order, dated 25.10.2013 passed by the august Supreme Court in Suo Moto Case No.20 of 2007 “Suo Moto regarding Margalla Tunnel” read with order, dated 19.03.2015 in Crl.O.P No.115 of 2014”.
While hinting at initiating contempt of court proceedings in the matter, the Chief Justice Minallah said, “Those public functionaries who have chosen to violate the above orders of the apex Court have exposed themselves to be prosecuted for contemptuous acts, omissions and conduct”.
He also sought a comprehensive report in the matter saying, “Aforementioned officials are directed to submit respective detailed reports before the next date is fixed. They shall inform this Court regarding the actions taken in accordance with law”.
Later, the court adjourned hearing of the matter till September 09.
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