Keepin’ it cool: SHC orders immediate restoration of electricity to museum housing dolphins

Show organiser goes to court against alleged dispossession of mammals, trainers.

Naeem Sahoutara July 22, 2014

KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) ordered on Tuesday the Pakistan Maritime Museum management to restore electricity to the ‘Dolphinarium’, where three mammals are being kept for dolphin shows.

This order came on a lawsuit instituted by the organiser of the show - Dolphin Show International (Pvt) Ltd - being held at the Pakistan Maritime Museum for the last several months.

The organiser had gone to court against the alleged dispossession of the dolphins and their trainers from the Maritime museum, where the event is being held. It had claimed damages worth Rs100 million jointly or separately from the Pakistan Maritime Museum director-general, the Pakistan Navy Commander Karachi (Comkar) and the coordinator of the show, the museum.

During Tuesday’s hearing, Maritime Museum DG Capt (retd) Muhammad Riaz appeared in response to contempt notices issued by the court for allegedly violating the interim stay order passed by it.

His lawyer, Umer Hayat Sindhu, filed a power of attorney on behalf of the DG. Both requested time to seek instructions to start the dolphin show before Eidul Fitr. Allowing the request, the bench granted time till July 25 to file the comments.

The plaintiff’s lawyer stated that the defendants have disconnected electricity to the premises, where the mammals and their foreign trainers were staying. “The dolphins will die, if the electricity is not restored immediately,” the lawyer told the court, pleading the court order the defendants to restore power supply to the purpose-built aquarium.

“The defendants are directed to immediately restore electricity of the premises, where the mammals and their trainers are staying,” said Justice Syed Hasan Azhar Rizvi. He also warned that any “failure to supply electricity shall be treated as commission of the contempt of the court.”

Early this month, the organiser took the Maritime Museum management and others to court for allegedly dispossessing them in breach of the agreement. Advocate Amin Lakhani submitted that his client, Syed Azhar Ali, he had the arranged dolphin show in the city with the mammals, including one Beluga whale, one Dolphin and one Sea Lion with the assistance of foreign trainers and consultants.

The plaintiff entered into an agreement with the Pakistan Maritime Museum management and made a huge investment in the Dolphinarium to bring the event at par with international standards. Several other contracts were also signed with foreign companies as well, which allowed him to use their mammals and trainers for the shows, he added.

The lawyer recalled that the organiser signed an agreement with the museum management in June 2013 to hold the shows for 406 days. Lastly, the plaintiff asked for agreement extension on June 18, but the museum management asked him to vacate the premises. The organiser was told to remove the dolphins and their trainers.

The court was pleaded to restrain the PMM management from illegally dispossessing the fish and their trainers in an unlawful manner.

Earlier, the SHC had ordered the museum and other defendants not to take any coercive action against the plaintiff. It had further ordered that the defendants seek prior permission from the court before initiating any action against the plaintiff.

At the last hearing, the court had issued contempt notices to the museum director-general to personally appear and explain why contempt proceedings cannot be initiated against him for violating the stay order.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 23rd, 2014.


Julie | 9 years ago | Reply

Animals are not for your entertainment. They have a right to their lives. They have a job to do in the ocean ecosystem that benefits every living being. In the wild, dolphins swim 50 km per day and use strategic skills and sonar to hunt. Dolphins have language and call each other by 'name'. In the wild dolphin families stay together for a lifetime. Captivity means they watch their families killed and if they have babies, they are taken away and sold. India recognizes that dolphins should be deemed 'non-human persons' due to their intelligence and family oriented social nature. Dolphins are a sentient species suffering at the hands of man. Croatia, Chile, Costa Rica, some U.S. states and other countries have banned captivity of dolphins and banned their display for entertainment. It is cruel and inhumane.

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” ― Mahatma Gandhi

Shah Ali | 9 years ago | Reply

Common after a long time a show of international standards is taking place in karachi. Pls donot take this entertainment event away from the city of lights......

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