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March 15, 2018

Notices to govt, ECP in plea against victory of 11 independent senators


March 15, 2018

LAHORE: The Lahore High Court on Wednesday issued notices to federal government and Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on a petition challenging victory notification of newly-elected 11 independent senators backed by PML-N.

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) leader Dr Zarqa Suharwardi Taimur filed the petition and contended through her counsel that disqualified prime minister and PML-N’s former president Nawaz Sharif had issued tickets to the 11 respondent candidates. However, she said the ECP after Nawaz Sharif’s disqualification verdict by the Supreme Court allowed the candidates of the PML-N to contest the election of the senate as independent. She submitted that the permission granted to the respondents by the ECP was in sheer violation of the Constitution and the Representation of Peoples Act 1976.

The petitioner contended that the respondent senators were no more eligible to contest the senate polls even as independent candidates after the disqualification of Nawaz Sharif as the party’s head. She asked the court to seek an explanation from the ECP that under what law it had permitted the respondent senators to run for the polls as independent candidates.

She asked the court to suspend the victory notifications of all the eleven returned senators from Punjab backed by the PML-N till final decision of her petition. Justice Shahid Karim heard the contention of the petitioner’s counsel and issued notices to the respondents for April 2. The judge also directed the court’s office to consolidate all petitions having identical matter.

smog: Lahore High Court Justice Ayesha A Malik on Wednesday directed the smog commission to submit a report till April 17. LHC Chief Justice had constituted the smog commission to look into the causes of smog and also to implement the environmental laws to prevent the effects of smog/air pollution.The commission is headed by Dr Pervez Hassan. The other commission members include advocate Sheraz Zaka, Environment Secretary Saif Anjum, an office-bearer nominated by Lahore High Court Bar Association president, Barrister Sarah Belal, Health Secretary Najam Shah and Additional Advocate General Anwar Hussain.

The chief justice had constituted the commission while hearing the petitions of Pakistan Tehrek-e-Insaf Lahore President Barrister Walid Iqbal and others. The advocate general ensured that smog commission would produce it's report and recommendations on the next date of hearing as it is functioning effectively and making progress.

Judge observed that fundamental rights of citizens were at stake and Punjab govt should be watchful to keep an eye on the factory owners to curb the industrial emissions. A petitioner counsel, Sheraz Zaka, said the smog commission was constituted to implement the smog policy and environmental laws across the province. He said that Lahore was becoming one of the most polluted cities in the world.

He pointed out that two years had elapsed and the Parks and Horticultural Authority had not bothered to file reply regarding plantation of trees. Petitioners earlier had said that in 1952 the great smog was faced by London which thereafter implemented environmental laws and implemented Clean Air Act 1956. He had submitted that in order to curb air and noise pollution during the times of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, coal industry in entire Britain was closed off.

He had said that in Pakistan the reason behind the smog was the lack of enforcement of environmental laws and dysfunctional central laboratory in Lahore which was due to the negligence of Punjab Environmental Protection Agency. He had submitted that the government had not taken adequate awareness measures among the public.

He said that the Punjab Environmental Protection Agency had failed to perform its statutory obligations and the enforce pollution charge rules, and the federal government was flouting its international obligations under Paris Agreement 2015.He pointed out that even EPA testing laboratory was not functioning.

He requested that the provincial government and Environmental Protection Agency should be asked whether the industrial activity taking place in the city was being scrutinised under Pollution Charge Rules 2001 or the agency was performing its statutory obligations. He also requested the court to inquire from the authorities what remedial measures had been taken to address the prevailing weather condition arising from the toxic smog.

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