Top court imposes ban on hunting of Houbara bustard

Source:  Tribune Published in Justice on Wednesday, August 19, 2015

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court imposed on Wednesday a ban on hunting of the endangered bird, Houbara bustard.

A three-judge bench of the SC headed by Chief Justice Justice Jawad S Khawaja ordered the cancellation of all licences issued by the federal government to Arab royals for the hunting of Houbara bustard.

“After the passing of the 18th Constitutional amendment, the rights to issue any such licences rests with the provincial governments,” the three-judge bench upheld, during the hearing of a petition filed by an individual, Aamir Zahoorul Haq.

Haq had filed a petition against illegal hunting permits issued to royal visitors from Gulf countries for hunting the Houbara bustard. The petitioner claimed that the government had issued the permits despite a ban on hunting of the Houbara bustard. The petitioner also requested the top court to take strict action against the officials who issued the licences.

The apex court rejected all the appeals filed by the federal and provincial governments to allow the hunting of Houbara bustards, arguing that there was legal provision to allow hunts under specific guidelines in addition to permits being issued for a small number of birds.

“The federal government has not only violated the federal and the provincial laws but has also breached the international agreements by issuing such licences,” Justice Qazi Faiz Essa remarked.

The court had earlier sought comprehensive reports from all provincial governments regarding ‘illegal’ issuance of hunting permits to foreign visitors.

The PTI-led Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government had already submitted its reply in the apex court stating that it had refused a request from the Foreign Office to issue permits to royals. The bench of the apex court had appreciated the K-P government’s stance on prohibiting dignitaries from hunting the endangered species in the province.

However, in another hearing last week, the SC’s bench questioned the Additional Advocate General of Balochistan under which law had the federal government allowed the hunting of Houbara Bustrad after the provincial government had requested the apex court to allow what it called “sustainable hunting” of the migratory bird under a strict code of conduct.

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