Zoo animals’ death: IHC issues show-cause notices to minister, officials

Updated 12 Aug 2020

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The IHC chief justice observed that the post-mortem report spoke volumes of inhumane and cruel conditions in which the animals had been kept at Maraghazar Zoo. — AFP/File
The IHC chief justice observed that the post-mortem report spoke volumes of inhumane and cruel conditions in which the animals had been kept at Maraghazar Zoo. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Tuesday issued show-cause notices to Minister for Climate Change Zartaj Gul, prime minister’s special assistant Malik Amin Aslam, the federal secretary of the ministry, inspector general forest and secretaries of the forest and wildlife departments of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in contempt proceedings over death of and cruel treatment to animals of Maraghazar Zoo.

The IHC chief justice, while hearing the case related to the shifting of the caged animals to their respective sanctuaries, observed that lion and lioness of the zoo died due to negligence of the officials of the Ministry of Climate Change, the Capital Development Authority (CDA), the Municipal Corporation of Islamabad and other departments.

The court observed that members of the Islamabad Wildlife Management Board consisting of an adviser to the prime minister, the parliamentary secretary, the CDA chairman, the chief metropolitan officer of the Metropolitan Corporation of Islamabad and officials of the forest and wildlife departments of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the Ministry of Climate Change were responsible for the well-being of animals, but they had failed to perform their duties.

“It, prima facie, appears that they have exposed themselves to be proceeded against under the Contempt of Court Ordinance, 2003.

Chief justice observes lion and lioness of Maraghazar Zoo died because of negligence

“The registrar of this court is directed to issue separate show-cause notices to the chairman and ex-officio as well as non-official members of the Islamabad Wildlife Management Board.

“The ex-officio members were notified vide notification, dated March 16, pursuant to decision of the federal cabinet i.e. the federal government in exercise of its powers conferred under Section 4 of the Ordinance of 1979,” the order said.

At last hearing on Aug 4, Naheed S. Durrani, Secretary of the Ministry of Climate Change, had appeared and submitted an interim report.

She was given time to identify the names of the ex-officio members of the Wildlife Management Board as per notification dated March 16, 2020.

On Tuesday, she stated that the loss of a loin and a lioness was being thoroughly probed. She also said that she had accepted the responsibility.

The court noted that the Himalayan bears caged at Maraghazar Zoo continued to suffer because of lack of care, neglect and mismanagement. The Himalayan bears are critically endangered species and, therefore, the Ministry of Climate Change and the Wildlife Management Board have to explain how they were not responsible for their welfare and protection.

Moreover, it has been reported that while being relocated to a private farm house near Lahore, a loin and a lioness did not survive.

The IHC chief justice observed that the post-mortem report spoke volumes of inhumane and cruel conditions in which the animals had been kept at Maraghazar Zoo. The recorded footages of the manner in which this majestic living beings had been handled were shown by the electronic media. The acts and omissions of the Wildlife Management Board and neglect of the Ministry of Climate Change appear to have led to the loss of this endangered species, while the lives of the Himalayan bears are now at risk.

Published in Dawn, August 12th, 2020