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November 30, 2020

‘Sindh govt has sided with feudal lords to curb peasants’ fundamental rights

Karachi

November 30, 2020

The Hari Welfare Associations (HWA), a peasant rights body, has accused the Sindh government of siding with feudal lords to curb peasant’s fundamental rights against the promises it had made in public.

In a statement issued on Sunday, it said Sindh Agriculture Minister Ismail Rahu had promised and confirmed in January that the provincial government would not move the Supreme Court against the 2019 landmark decision of the Sindh High Court’ Hyderabad bench in favour of the peasants' rights.

“The minister had also claimed that he and his party believed in peasants' rights and that the government was not against peasants' rights. He had denied that the government of Sindh had not filed any appeal against the high court's decision,” the rights body said.

“But it is incredibly disappointing that the Sindh government had filed civil petition 652 (2019) in the Supreme Court right after the high court’s landmark judgement that had struck down Section-6 of the Sindh Tenancy (Amendment) Act, 2013 whereby Section 24-C of the Sindh Tenancy Act, 1950 was amended to omit prohibition of a beggar (unpaid work). The judgement had also ruled that after the separation of judiciary from the executive, assistant commissioners, additional commissioners and commissioners/collectors did not have powers to make decisions in judicial matters under sections 27, 29 and 30 of the Sindh Tenancy Act.”

It said such executive's actions were against the provisions of Article 175, 202 and 203 of the Constitution of Pakistan. The rights body said the petition was put up before the court on November 17 and "thus, the court had notified the respondents of the case, including the primary respondent late Ghulam Ali who was the victim of landlord's brutalities and bureaucratic injustice.”

It continued: “The SHC had given the decision in the case of peasant Ghulam Ali Laghari who was exploited, abused and tortured by the landlord. Laghari was not given his 35 years share in the cultivation; instead, he was forced to vacate the land and the house.”

The HWA said the SHC had also ordered the government to make amendments in the Sindh Tenancy Act 1950 and take necessary measures, including transferring of all peasants' cases under the STA to the judiciary. “However, instead of complying with the high court's decision and protecting the rights of peasants in the oppressive feudal system and structure, the Sindh government has sided with feudal lords to curb and violate fundamental rights of peasants in Sindh quite against the promises it makes in public.”

The rights body noted that in 2018, Pakistan had endorsed the adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas and made a commitment to protect the rights of peasants.

The HWA said it had received a significant concern from peasant leaders on the Sindh government's decision to appeal against the high court's “neutral and logical decision in favour of society and therefore the HWA urges the government to withdraw from an appeal filed in the Supreme Court and amend the STA in light of the UN Declaration and the Sindh High Court's verdict, and also take necessary measures ordered under the same verdict.”