LAHORE - The Lahore High Court (LHC) chief justice (CJ) on Tuesday sought a report from the Water and Sanitation Authority (WASA) managing director (MD) for May 3 in a suo motu case and identical writ petitions against presence of arsenic in the tube-wells of the city. On earlier orders by the court, WASA managing director was expected to submit a reply and detailed report on Tuesday, however it was not carried out. Upon this, LHC Chief Justice Ijaz Ahmad Chaudhry passed fresh directions to MD WASA for submitting the report, on tube-wells' water which allegedly contained arsenic contents, by the next hearing.
Lahore Conservative Society's counsel lawyer Mateenul Haq stated that consumption of arsenic-containing water from WASA tube-wells was causing gastro diseases in children as well as hepatitis and kidney failure in adults. He said since provision of clean drinking water to citizens was responsibility of the government and its municipal departments, people were waiting for the right steps to be taken in order to be provided with clean drinking water. The court adjourned hearing of the case till May 3 ordering the WASA MD to submit a report on water condition.
Former CJ Khawaja Muhammad Sharif had taken suo motu notice on public interest matter last year while lawyers Mateenul Haq and Muhammad Sohail Dar had filed writ petitions pointing out that due to dirty drinking water citizens were suffering from hepatitis and other diseases. The suo motu notice was taken on a news report that stated that Environmental Protection department through a report revealed that out of the total 392 around 253 WASA tube-wells were supplying arsenic-contaminated water posing serious health hazardous to the citizens.
The petitioning lawyers took a plea that the Punjab government had given funds to WASA for providing clean drinking water to the citizens but these funds were lapsed due to negligence on the part of the authorities concerned. In reply to the allegations, WASA said the water was being supplied to consumers through a network of a distribution system comprising ductile iron, cast iron, asbestos cement and high density polyethylene & poly-vinyl chloride pipelines and this system was regularly disinfected through chlorination.
WASA also said that it had installed generators on many tube-wells to prevent adulteration of the substances that caused contamination while expert chemists checked water quality on a daily basis.
- issues notice to AGP on Tarar's plea: The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Tuesday issued notice for May 18 to the federation and Attorney General of Pakistan (AGP) for proceedings on a petition seeking the court's orders to remove all references made to Pervez Musharraf describing him as president of Pakistan in public or official records. The petition was filed by former president Muhammad Rafiq Tarar submitting that he should be given pension benefits as a former president by declaring Pervez Musharraf as an unlawful president who came to power after him. Justice Azmat Saeed passed the orders after hearing arguments of counsel for former President Abid Hasan Minto who submitted that the petitioner was entitled salary from December 1, 2001 to September 8, 2009 at a rate of 132.5 percent of the salary payable to Pakistan's CJ and arrears of the same period should be given to welfare organizations.
The petitioner's counsel while referring to the Supreme Court's decision on the Sindh High Court Bar Association contended that the petitioner legally continued serving as president till September 8, 2008 when Asif Ali Zardari assumed the presidential office. Minto submitted that unfortunately this principle of keeping the salary and pension of the president higher than other state functionaries could not be carried out as salaries of the CJ and other judges had increased manifolds.
The counsel, on behalf of Tarar, submitted that he had taken oath for the president's office on January 1, 1998 and at that time salary payable to the president was Rs 23,000 and he was entitled for a pension of Rs 10,000. He submitted that this anomaly was against constitutional intents as the pension that he draws was Rs 48,450 whereas the pension of a retired CJ during the time period of 1991 to 1994 was Rs 4, 76,325.
The petitioner said that after his expulsion another summary was moved through which the president was entitled to receive Rs 57,000 as monthly salary and 85 percent of the salary as pension and the same was approved. After hearing the arguments, the court issued notice to the AGP and other respondents.