KARACHI: The Sindh High Court on Tuesday directed an additional secretary for health to appear on Dec 13 in a petition seeking implementation of anti-smoking laws.

Prof Dr Javed Khan, consultant pulmonologist at a private hospital, had moved the SHC in 2014 for the implementation of anti-smoking laws in Sindh and later the court had issued notices to the health secretary and other respondents.

When the matter came up for hearing before the two-judge bench headed by Justice Mohammad Ali Mazhar on Tuesday, an additional advocate general sought time to call the additional secretary for health at the next hearing.

Putting off the hearing to Dec 13, the bench issued a directive to the relevant authorities to ensure the presence of the additional secretary at the next hearing.

The petitioner submitted that the use of tobacco was the single largest preventable cause of diseases, disabilities and deaths in the country, adding that around 100,000 people died every year in the country as a result of tobacco use.

Referring to studies conducted to measure tobacco smoke pollution at various restaurants and cafes in major cities of the country, he contended that a high level of pollution was found at cafes where shisha was being served. Almost 50 per cent of the youth are now addicted to shisha.

The petitioner further argued that the Prohibition of Smoking and Protection of Non-Smoker Health Law was passed in 2002 wherein smoking was prohibited at all public places, as was sale of tobacco to minors while the provincial assembly also passed a resolution in 2011 against smoking shisha in restaurants and public places, he added.

He stated that despite claims by the authorities concerned through newspapers regarding the province-wide ban on shisha, the law had yet to be translated into action.

The petitioner submitted that after the 18th Amendment health was a provincial subject and the SHC might give consideration to this very important public health issue and issue a directive to the authorities concerned to take appropriate steps for the implementation of the anti-smoking laws.

Life term upheld

Another division bench of the SHC on Tuesday upheld the life imprisonment awarded to three men by the trial court in a kidnapping for ransom case.

An antiterrorism court had sentenced Mohammad Sohail, Jamshed and Pir Mohammad to life in prison in April 2017 for abducting Fayyaz for ransom in an Orangi Town locality in July 2013.

The convicts through their counsel filed appeals against the trial court order. After hearing both sides and examining the record and proceedings, the two-judge bench headed by Justice Mohammad Karim Khan Agha dismissed the appeals and maintained the judgement of the ATC.

The bench in its order observed that the case of prosecution stood proved against the appellants since all the key witnesses of the prosecution were reliable and their evidence remained consistent despite being subjected to cross-examination.

Published in Dawn, November 20th, 2019