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November 9, 2019

SHC restrains govt, MSA from stopping citizens from enjoying coastal leisure sports


November 9, 2019

The Sindh High Court has restrained the provincial government and the Maritime Security Agency (MSA) from stopping citizens from enjoying water sports activities till new rules and regulations are made for coastal leisure sports and tourism, including scuba diving, snorkeling and para-sailing.

The court directed the citizens to maintain requisite safety measures and seek security clearance. The direction came during a hearing of a petition of M Jaffer Raza and others against restrictions on water sports, including scuba diving, snorkeling, jet-skiing and para-sailing, on Charna Island.

The court on a previous hearing had directed the chief secretary to convene a meeting with all the stakeholders, including representatives of the culture, tourism and antiques departments, to sort out the issue.

The additional advocate general filed a statement mentioning that a meeting of the sports and youth affairs, culture and tourism departments and the MSA was held and certain decisions were taken in the meeting.

It was submitted that a 10-member committee would be constituted to prepare draft rules and regulations with regard to coastal leisure sports/tourism within one month. He said all stakeholders agreed that till new rules and regulations were framed they would not restrain citizens from enjoying water sports activities in November and December as requested by the water sports persons/instructors. However, he said, they would maintain safety standards.

He submitted that the chief secretary had constituted a committee to prepare rules and regulations with regard to coastal leisure sports.

He stated that terms of reference has been framed for the committee to determine the scope of activities mentioned in the terms of reference vis-a-vis tourism and sports, prepare safety standards to protect the visitors and to draft laws, rules in light of international practices with proper safety/security. He said the committee would submit its report within 30 days.

The provincial law officer held out the assurance that the committee would submit their report and further action would be taken by the government of Sindh for notifying the rules and regulations in the official gazette within 30 days.

The Pakistan Maritime Agency’s director legal also agreed that the petitioners would be allowed to do sporting activities as per international standards subject to following the proper safety and security clearance by the MSA.

A division bench headed by Justice Mohammad Ali Mazhar, after perusal of the minutes of the meeting, directed the committee to submit their draft report to the provincial government within 30 days so that rules and regulations for sporting activities may be notified in the official gazette.

The Sindh High Court directed that the petitioners be not restrained from enjoying sporting activities as already agreed in the meeting amongst the all stakeholders till the framing of rules/regulations provided that they follow all requisite safety measures/standards and security clearance.

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