Keenly following in the footsteps of the federal administration, the Shahbaz Sharif Punjab government has filed a review petition in the top court against its ruling barring them from granting permits for hunting Houbara bustard.
In its August 19 judgement, the Supreme Court barred the federal and provincial governments from granting permits for hunting the indigenous bird and reminded them that the country’s laws were not a ‘saleable commodity’.
On October 17, Additional Attorney General Chaudhry Abdul Rehman had filed a review petition against the apex court’s verdict.
Now, Additional Advocate General Razzaq Mirza has filed a petition in the court on behalf of the Punjab government, stating that the permission granted for hunting Houbara bustard was in fact a policy matter of the federal government, stemming from its relationship with foreign states.
The federal administration had expressed apprehension that the ban on hunting houbara bustard could affect the frail ties between Pakistan and the Middle East.
The Punjab government said the top court’s judgment did not take into account the fact that the issue regarding the permission to allow hunting of the bird constituted an inter-provincial matter and that the formulation and regulation of relevant policies fell within the domain of the Council of Common Interests.
Mirza said Article IV of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals, which is relevant to the case, was not referred to or taken into account before the SC announced its verdict.
The review petition said that even the survey conducted and data collected by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) did not recommend a complete ban on the hunting of Houbara bustard.
The Punjab government said the court had no relevant data or figures to conclude that the population of the indigenous bird had fallen in the recent years. On the contrary, added the petition, the number of Houbara bustard has increased.
The provincial administration also objected to the maintainability of the petition in favour of the ban because the petitioner had no locus standi (standing) to claim to be aggrieved according to the federal government’s interpretation of conservation of migratory species of wild animals within the territories of Pakistan.