KARACHI: Sindh High Court (SHC) on Thursday deferred till tomorrow the pronouncement of its verdict on a petition that challenged legality of the special permits issued to the Arab dignitaries for hunting internationally protected houbara bustard.
A division bench headed by Justice Sajjad Ali Shah after hearing final arguments from the both sides had reserved its verdict in the matter to be pronounced during the course of the day. Later, the court officials told the press that the bench had deferred till tomorrow (Jan 02) the announcement of the ruling.
Lal Khan Chandio and Rahib Kalhoro had approached the court, pleaded it to declare the issuance of special permits to the Arab dignitaries illegal and order the suspension of the same.
The petitioners’ counsel had submitted that federal government had issued licenses to various Arab dignitaries for hunting the endangered houbara bustard (locally know as Tiloor) in violation of the international laws. This was not the first time the government had issued the permits but this illegal act was being perpetuated for many years.
He said that houbara bustard also figured on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) list as vulnerable and feared to be decreasing by 30 percent a year in Pakistan alone.
He said this bird was declared to be among endangered species in 1912 and a permanent ban on its hunting was placed in 1971. Although a ban already existed, another ban was imposed on hunting in 1992, albeit with provision of special temporary license for Arab royals. He said this provision was also struck down by the court in 1993 when it was approached but the practice of hunting was still continuing unabated.
Salman Talibudin, deputy attorney general, argued that hunting of the endangered wildlife was not permitted in the areas declared as Wildlife Sanctuaries and National Parks. However, under section 16 of Sindh Wildlife Protection Ordinance 1972, the government may declare any area as Game Reserve, where hunting and shooting of wildlife shall not be allowed except special permits, which may specify the maximum number of animals or birds that may be killed or captured.
He stated that SHC’s judgment regarding hunting of endangered wildlife passed in 1993, which the petitioners’ counsel were relying on, was against the standpoint of the federal government as certain provisions including the section 16 were not discussed, which allowed the government to issue permits.
The federal law officer had filed an application, requesting the SHC Chief Justice to constitute a larger bench to decide the case once and for all. Subsequently, the CJ had delegated his powers to the bench to constitute a larger bench if it was necessary.
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