IHC to initiate contempt proceedings against MCI officials

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Islamabad metropolitan official reluctant to handover zoo
management to Climate Change Ministry

Zubair Qureshi

The Islamabad High Court is all set to initiate contempt proceedings against the Metropolitan Corporation of Islamabad (MCI) for not handing over the administrative and financial affairs of the Margazar Zoo (Islamabad Zoo) to the Climate Change Ministry.
Advocate Owais Awan, the petitioner’s counsel informed the court that MCI officials did not implement the court orders dated June 25 and “had deliberately locked their offices and refused to hand over the management to the Ministry of Climate Change.”
He further stated that for the last three weeks animals in the zoo had been suffering while the condition of an injured brown bear had become critical.
MCI officials— MCI Director Rana Tahir and Deputy Director Bilal Khilji—appeared before the court sought unconditional apology of the court and assured the orders will be implemented in letter and spirit. However rejecting their apology, the chief justice directed them to submit affidavit in response to contempt petition within fortnight, explaining as to why they did not implement the court‘s order.
The court issued the show-cause notice to the officials of the MCI and directed them to file a written reply explaining as to why proceedings may not be initiated against them under the Contempt of Court Ordinance 2003.
The court also sought a report from the secretary climate change as to why there was a delay in complying with this court order. Justice Minallah remarked that both the officials have prima facie committed the contempt of court.
Justice Minallah on June 25 had directed the Secretary Ministry of Climate Change to take control of the zoo. The court had issued the direction on a petition filed by the Islamabad Wildlife Management Board (IWMB) against lack of facilities in the zoo.
The court ordered the Secretary Ministry of Climate Change to appoint an authorized officer who would look after the management of the Margazar Zoo with the assistance of the Islamabad Wildlife Management Board (IWMB) and the amicus appointed by the court for its assistance.
After the court’s decision, Chief Commissioner Islamabad visited the zoo to review arrangement for the animals. However, despite the court’s directions, MCI administration kept delaying handover of the Zoo management and as a result, the petitioner Islamabad Wildlife Management Board (IWMB) moved a contempt petition in the court last month. While hearing the petition Chief Justice issued a show cause notice to MCI officers.
Chief Justice Athar Minallah during several hearings on poor state of the Islamabad Zoo has observed that Islamabad Zoo is not meeting the standards set for a zoo internationally. Justice Athar Minallah said that they intend to bring three more elephants while even not properly taking care of a lone elephant, Kaavan, in the zoo. In a past hearing, while addressing the zoo officials, the chief justice said if they could not facilitate the elephant and meet its basic needs, they could send it back to Sri Lanka. Besides the elephant, a marsh crocodile is also being kept in deplorable condition in the zoo and, according to experts, may not survive if the zoo’s environment is not improved.

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