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Jamal Khurshid
December 7, 2017

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Will not allow PM, CM to act against Constitution: SC

Will not allow PM, CM to act against Constitution: SC

KARACHI: The Supreme Court (SC) on Wednesday observed that the judiciary does not want to interfere in the affairs of the executive but would also not overlook denial of fundamental rights to citizens and if necessary the prime minister, chief minister or other state functionaries will be called for their enforcement.
Hearing a petition regarding provision of clean drinking water and safe environment to the people of Sindh, the SC’s three-member bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar, observed that powers were given to the executive for serving the people. It observed that the judges had taken oath to secure the democratic process but it was also their duty to protect the fundamental rights of citizens and the judiciary would not allow denial of the fundamental rights of citizens.
The bench observed that the court was willing to support the provincial government for redressing the grievances of the people adding that they had to be resolved without any delay. The court asked Chief Minister Sindh Syed Murad Ali Shah to give the time-frame as to when the issue of clean potable water and sewerage will be resolved. Justice Faisal Arab observed the court does not want to perform the duties of executive but people move courts when their grievances are not addressed by executive. The court observed that corruption has become a menace for the society and it would be overcome only when everyone pledges to work honestly. A video on judicial commission's visits to different water supply and drain sites was screened in the presence of chief minister Sindh that showed how the untreated raw municipal and industrial sewage are polluting water bodies and how the dangerous hospital waste was being disposed. After watching the video, the chief justice said that he is speechless and observed that Pakistan People's Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto should also see the plight of his party voters in Larkana.
The court observed that these are not adversarial proceedings and the main object is to help enforce people's fundamental rights. The court observed that it is painful that people of Sindh as well as other parts of the country do not have access to clean drinking water. At this, the chief minister Sindh said that the video was prepared by the petitioner and painted a very bleak picture of the government's performance and requested the court to allow him to show another video to prove the government's efforts at trying to overcome contamination. The court observed that the Sindh government did not object to the judicial commission’s report and its recommendations, and said no order will be passed without hearing the point of view of the government. The court observed that the CM was invited to the court keeping in view the seriousness of the issue. The court observed that the proceedings will continue until people get clean water.
Murad Ali Shah said that several cities of Punjab were also receiving contaminated water and according to the research by Pakistan Council of Water Resources, 88% of water supplied to Sargohda was not fit for human consumption, 81% in Quetta while the tap water of Lahore could also not be consumed. He said Sindh was being discriminated against while the situation of other provinces regarding supply of contaminated water was not different from here. The chief minister Sindh said that he would not take refuge in the fact that the people of other provinces were also getting contaminated water and takes full responsibility for the situation in Sindh but would make efforts to overcome these issues.
The chief justice observed the Sindh government could not claim discrimination, rather people of other provinces can question why the Supreme Court did not initiate proceedings in their areas and gave preference to Sindh. The court said that it will make the decision of this case a benchmark for the other provinces. The chief minister said that he was advised to take an exemption from appearance under Article 248 but he appeared before the court as he respects the democratic and judicial system.
Giving details of the ongoing projects of water supply and sewerage system, the CM said that phase 1 of K-IV project will provide 260 MGD water to the city. He told the court that he has approved all summaries related to water projects of various cities on the directives of the Water Commission. The chief minister complained that the government wanted to transfer several officers from the water and sewerage department for their inefficiency but could not do so due to the court's ban. The court observed it will review its orders if it found that they were not performing their duties efficiently. Addressing the chief minister, the court remarked that people are compelled to purchase water from tankers and you should overcome this menace.
Former Nazim Mustafa Kamal, Chairman of Pak Sarzameen Party, explained his position over allotment of 49 acres land of Mehmoodabad treatment plant to the 1,218 displaced victims of Preedy Street in 2007. He submitted it was done on a resolution of the then city council. He said the decision was taken after consultations with the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board, which informed the city government that the land will not be used for treatment plant. Asking as to how an amenity plot could be allotted to people, the court directed chief minister Sindh and secretary local government to conduct an inquiry and submit report.
The former city mayor also briefed the court about the K-IV and S-III projects and submitted that they were planned during his tenure as City Nazim in 2007. But the initial cost of Rs.7.2 billion of S-III project has increased manifold to Rs.42 billion, which should be probed. He said the city required 1,240 MGD water but only 650 MGD water was being supplied to over 20 million population. He suggested that the K-IV project phase I and phase II should be completed simultaneously to save the cost and help meet the demand of water supply in 2020. He said Sindh is receiving 36,370 MGD from IRSA but Karachi receives 550 MGD only.
He said that water and sewerage system should be devolved to local bodies at district level. Kamal said many mineral water companies are selling filtered or water board's water. The court asked Mustafa Kamal to submit his proposals in writing and adjourned the hearing.

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