Environmental cases: ‘Tribunal head can’t be appointed sans new law’

Published: February 2, 2012
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LAHORE: 

A new head cannot be appointed to the Punjab environment tribunal until the Punjab Assembly passes new legislation to replace the Punjab Environment Protection Act of 1997, said Environment Protection Department Director General Maqsood Ahmad Lak.

A new law has been approved by a standing committee of the Punjab Assembly, but is yet to be presented for further debate and approval in the assembly. Once passed by the assembly, it will have to be okayed by the governor to become law. Lak estimated that the governor would take a month to review the law once it was passed by the assembly.

The chief minister can only appoint a tribunal chairman once the law is enacted, he said. “We are helpless in the absence of a law and do not have the authority to even recommend someone for the post,” he added.

But there is a way around this requirement, he said. “If the Ministry of Law appoints the member (legal) the additional duties of chairman, as is the case in Khyber-Pakthunkhwa and Balochistan, the pending cases can be dealt with,” Lak said.

The environment tribunal consists of a legal member  equivalent to a sessions court judge, a technical member – an expert on environmental issues – and a chairman, equivalent to a High Court judge. “Currently, we have technical and legal members but no chairman,” he said.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 2nd, 2012.

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