Members of civil society filed a petition highlighting inactions of the relevant Government Departments (Respondent) for not implementing the laws, policies and strategies regarding protection of the forest of Pakistan and to implement them by passing certain directions to the concerned quarters to perform their duties as per law. The Petitioners filed a constitutional petition seeking, inter alia, a writ of mandamus to the Respondents for the implementation of the Forest Act, 1927 (the Forest Act); the Punjab Plantation and Maintenance of Trees Act, 1974 (the Trees Act); the National Climate Change Policy, 2012; and for enforcement and protection of their fundamental rights. The Court stressed that the principles of international environmental law (e.g. Sustainable Development, Precautionary Principle, Public Trust doctrine, Inter-and Intra-Generational Equity, Water Justice and Food Justice, In Dubio Pro Natura, Polluter Pays) are part of the Pakistani jurisprudence. The Court stated that the Respondents are duty-bound to adhere to their own policies under the doctrine of sovereignty. Further, it allowed the writ of mandamus and directed the Government Departments to do anything they are required by law to do in order to safely manage, conserve, sustain, maintain, protect and grow forests and plant trees in urban cities.
Environmental Legal Questions:
- Is the doctrine of Continuing Mandamus applicable in the instant matter: Continuing Mandamus is a relief given by a Court of law through a series of ongoing orders over a long period of time, directing an authority to do its duty or fulfill an obligation in general public interest, as and when a need arises over the duration a case lies with the Court, with the Court choosing not to dispose of the case in finality. The Court found the doctrine applicable to this Public Interest Litigation case as it refers to a situation which cannot be remedied instantaneously. The Court will continue monitoring its orders, seeking periodic reports on its implementation progress.
- Does any urban tree policy exist in Punjab: The Court concluded that there is no Urban Trees Plantation Policy regarding plantation of trees in urban areas because the current policies only refer to forest land.