The Punjab government on Wednesday appeared to take a step back on its earlier announcement to celebrate Basant in 2019, with its counsel telling the Lahore High Court that its decision was not final yet.
On December 18, the provincial government had announced that it was lifting the 12-year-old ban imposed on celebrating Basant, saying the festival — which marks the arrival of Spring season — will be celebrated in the second week of February 2019.
The decision was challenged in the high court, where the petitioner had claimed that it was "unconstitutional" to allow a leisure activity "that results in the loss of human lives", and accused the government of lifting the ban to divert attention from public issues.
The petitioner had asked the court to declare the government's decision as illegal, and initiate contempt-of-court proceedings against Punjab Information and Culture Minister Fayyazul Hassan Chohan, the provincial chief secretary, and the Punjab police chief.
The Punjab government's stance on the festival appeared to have softened today as its counsel told the court that "the decision to celebrate Basant is merely a recommendation at this point."
"A final decision has not been taken yet," he clarified.
Subsequently, the court issued notices to Chohan and others named in the petition, while also directing both the parties' counsels to present their arguments in the next hearing.