The Lahore High Court has issued notice for May 14 to the Election Commission secretary and other respondents on a petition seeking directions for the PML-N not to exhibit wild cats at its public rallies.
Other than the ECP, petitioner Faryal Gohar named the climate change division secretary, the forestry, wildlife and fisheries secretary, the district coordination officer and the World Wide Fund for Nature as respondents.
A full LHC bench sought replies from all the respondents by the next hearing and referred the petition to a division bench headed by Justice Mansoor Ali Shah for further proceedings. A single bench, consisting of Justice Shah, had referred the petition to the full bench on Wednesday.
Justice Shah directed the petitioner’s lawyer to make the PML-N a respondent so that he could also issue notice to the party. Advocate Waqas Ahmad Mir told The Express Tribune that he would file an application to this effect before the next hearing.
The petitioner stated that the exhibition of big cats at public rallies posed a danger to both the animals and the people attending. It was a violation of various domestic and international laws, and went against Islamic teachings to be kind to animals.
She said that the tiger was an endangered species and deserved proper treatment and care.
Its presence among large crowds of people could cause stress to the cat, which could lead to unpredictable behaviour that could endanger the people attending the rallies. There was also a risk of the transmission of an infectious disease from the animal to humans.
The petitioner said that she had brought this issue to the ECP’s attention, but it had not acted. She said the other respondents were also legally obliged to protect big felids and citizens living within their territorial jurisdiction, but none of them had taken steps to bring this practice to a halt.
She said a number of private individuals had also made it a practice to parade wild animals on the roofs of their cars at night.
She added that no relief was sought from the WWF, but it had been named as a respondent so it could provide expert opinion on the matter.
The petitioner asked the court to direct the respondents to ensure that no party exhibits wild felids in public.
Mir said that the respondents should also be instructed to improve the living conditions of wild cats held in private farms, and introduce stricter licensing procedures and inspection mechanisms.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 10th, 2013.