The high court directed the stakeholders to find a solution by Monday for the shifting of animals in Islamabad Zoo to sanctuaries.
The Islamabad High Court (IHC) Chief Justice Athar Minalllah directed to submit a report on the plan of action by Monday.
The court turned down the possibilities of extending the deadline for the transfer of the animals from the zoo.
Justice Minallah asked why the animals were still not relocated to sanctuaries despite IHC's orders. He further inquired about the affidavits that the court had sought from the respondents in the case.
Addressing the Islamabad Commissioner Amer Ali Ahmad, Cheif Justice stated, “Why people have forgotten the instructions about animals in Islam?” He added that the animals including the elephant, Kavaan, have already suffered a lot.
Chief Commissioner Amer Ali Ahmad, who said he was unaware of the whole development, expressed that they would do whatever it takes to improve the condition of the zoo.
At this, the chief justice remarked that the court had already ordered to shut down Islamabad Zoo. The commissioner replied that they would provide land to the Islamabad Wildlife Management Board (IWMB) where it could shift the zoo animals.
Justice Minallah recalled that Prime Minister Imran Khan too had expressed concerns about mistreatment with Kaavan and how it faced torture.
The prime minister even said that the people of the country had no idea of what a national park was. “Why was the prime minister not briefed about the wildlife laws?” he questioned.
The court remarked that all respondents were neglecting its orders and asked why the IHC’s decision pertaining to shifting of animals to sanctuaries was not implemented even though nobody challenged the verdict.
The court said to the Ministry of Climate Change (MoCC) Secretary that the Minister of Climate Change Zartaj Gul was made a member of the board that had to arrange and oversee the whole transfer process.
The official replied that the minister's nomination was not approved yet. At this, Justice Minallah said that the secretary herself submitted a copy of the federal cabinet’s decision that the minister had been made a board member. “Did you try to mislead the court?” he questioned.
The secretary contended that a parliamentarian could not become a member of any board. The court termed it as a very big statement and questioned if none of the parliamentarians was a member of any board.
The official maintained that she did not know about other ministries but that is what she had been told.
Minallah said that they had a copy of the cabinet’s decision and added that why the secretary was changing her statements when the cabinet had decided the induction of minister as a board member.
The court stated that the official should simply answer why Kavaan was not freed from the zoo yet and questioned who was responsible for the pain animals were suffering from incarceration in Islamabad Zoo.
IWMB Chairman Aneesur Rahman expressed that the bench had directed to contact the Sri Lankan High Commission to do something about the elephant. At this, Minallah clarified that it was just an option and could be done if possible.
The court said that IWMB chairman had now proposed building a sanctuary for animals in Islamabad and remarked that even the humans were not being properly treated here let alone be animals.
The court adjourned the case until next week.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 12th, 2020.