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PTI plea for FIR against Sindh govt over heatwave deaths dismissed

Published Jul 04, 2015 06:00am
"Climate change is in control of Almighty Allah and submitting an application under the head is not to be appreciated". —AP/File
"Climate change is in control of Almighty Allah and submitting an application under the head is not to be appreciated". —AP/File

KARACHI: A sessions court on Friday threw out the application of a Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf leader seeking the registration of a case pertaining to deaths from heatstroke against the provincial government.

PTI leader Imran Ismail moved an application under Section 22-A of the criminal procedure code in court asking it to order registration of an FIR against the chief minister, health and information ministers, Karachi administrator and others for demonstrating apathy during the devastating heatwave that took over 1,200 lives in Karachi.

However, District and Session Judge (south) Ahmed Saba dismissed the application after hearing arguments from both sides.

The court in its order observed that the application was mainly based on the issue related to climate change which resulted in hot and humid weather and in such circumstances “if the people were affected in fact it was a climatically based situation and certainly no cognisable offence can be attracted”.

Climate change is in control of Almighty Allah and submitting an application under the head — as agitated by the applicant — is not to be appreciated, according to the judgement

Referring to a point raised in the PTI plea that the government did not take any precautionary step despite having been warned about an increase in temperature, the court observed that seemingly the precautionary measures had been adopted as it was noticeable that camps had been established by the city government.

“Due to climate changes the season of monsoon also has been effected and rather delayed and for all this we being Muslims have to pray before Almighty Allah to extend the relief to the human being by showing His kindness,” it added.

The court further observed that the change in the climate was the exclusive domain and in control of Almighty Allah and submitting an application under the head as agitated by the applicant was not to be appreciated and on such a basis the criminal law cannot be set into motion.

The court advised the applicant to agitate such grievances on the floor of the assembly and not to use the channel to create havoc by lodging an FIR against government functionaries.

The PTI leader had moved court after the SHO Civil Lines turned down his application seeking registration of a case against the proposed accused.

The applicant had contended that Syed Qaim Ali Shah had been the chief minister of Sindh for over seven years and he along with the proposed accused deliberately and intentionally did not take any precautionary steps regardless of the fact that the inter-governmental panel on climate change, a scientific body powered by the United Nations, had issued a report almost a year ago warning that temperatures would increase further in the country.

The PTI’s deputy secretary general maintained that the mens rea (guilty mind) of the proposed accused was exposed from the facts that high-risk localities were not identified, provision for easy availability of drinking water, shades for outdoor workers and efforts for energy generation were not made, nor the early warning system for helping people to be prepared in advance was made operational.

He further submitted that the people of the city were left only at the mercy of charity organisations and there were no adequate arrangements at hospitals to treat heat-affected patients while there was also no space in mortuaries and graveyards.

He said that the people were dying, but the CM and others were making arrangements for a grand Iftar party, as they became clueless of the pain and misery of the masses.

In his application, the PTI leader suggested the heat-health project developed by Ahmedabad, Gujarat, which faced identical temperatures, could be a possible model in diminishing the people’s sufferings.

Published in Dawn, July 4th, 2015

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