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July 19, 2019

PHC restrains action against 12 Village Conservation Committees of Chitral

Peshawar

July 19, 2019

PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court (PHC) on Thursday restrained Anti-Corruption Establishment Department from any action against 12 Village Conservation Committees from Chitral working in the district for the conservation of the wildlife, especially Markhor and Ibex.

A division bench comprising Justice Musarrat Hilali and Justice Ishtiaq Ibrahim passed the interim order in a writ petition filed by presidents of 12 Village Conservation Committees from the Chitral district. They had challenged the interference and action of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Anti-Corruption and Establishment Department in 80 percent share of the committees in the Markhor and Ibex trophy hunting permits.

The committees filed the petition through its presidents, seeking the judicial order to set aside the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Anti-Corruption and Establishment Department inquiry and recommendations to ban the use of their 80 percent share received through trophy hunting permits for Markhor and Ibex. The bench issued the notice to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government through the secretary, Forest, Chief Conservator Wild Life Department, director, Anti-Corruption Establishment and assistant director, Crimes, Anti-Corruption Establishment in the petition.

During the arguments, Ghufranullah Shah, counsel for the petitioners, submitted that the Anti-Corruption Establishment Department had conducted inquiry and recommended that the 12 villages could only use the interest from their 80 percent share, which is an illegal and unjustified recommendation based on so-called and “fake” inquiry report.

He submitted before the bench that the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government through notifications issued on February 22, 1997 and January 12, 2002 allowed the village conservative committees to utilise their exclusive share of 80 percent revenue realized from issuing hunting permits for Markhor and Ibex for community development projects in reward of their exemplary role and participation in management and conservation of Wild Life over more than 200 sq KM Toshi Conservation Area, Chitral. Despite clear notifications, he pointed out that the ACE Department intervened in the matter and through baseless report recommended action against the committees office-bearers for using the 80 percent fund for various schemes of welfare of the villagers and protection of the wild life, for which they were not permitted as they could use only interest on the 80 percent share. The lawyer said that the inquiry report and recommendation for action against the Village Conservation Committees office-bearers formed by the government was a violation of the government notifications and based on malafide intention. He explained that the act of ACE to deny the same and limit the villages to utilise only interest of their share is against the scheme of management and conservation of wildlife and violation of the provincial government notifications. The bench restrained the ACE from any adverse action against the petitioners and directed the government and DG ACE to submit reply in the petition. It fixed July 31 for the next hearing and transferred the case to Green Bench to be heard by Justice Qaiser Rashid Khan.

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