–Petitioner says SC had banned festival because it had taken the form of a ‘blood sport’
–PML-N MPA moves resolution in Punjab Assembly against lifting of ban on Basant festival, asks SC to take notice
LAHORE: A local lawyer has moved the Lahore High Court (LHC) against the Punjab government’s decision to lift the 12-year-old ban imposed on celebrating Basant festival in the province.
The provincial administration had removed the ban on the kite-flying festival on Tuesday, saying that it will be celebrated in the second week of February 2019. Advocate Safdar Shaheed Pirzada challenged that decision in court, complaining that the festival had been banned in the first place because it had taken the form of a “blood sport”.
The petitioner claimed that it was “unconstitutional” to allow a leisure activity “that results in the loss of human lives”, and accused the government of lifting the ban to divert attention from public issues.
Furthermore, the petitioner prayed to the court to declare the government’s decision as illegal.
The court accepted the petition and fixed it for hearing on Thursday.
On Tuesday, Punjab Information and Culture Minister Fayyazul Hassan Chohan had announced the government’s decision to lift the Basant ban, adding that a committee comprising the Punjab law minister, the provincial chief secretary, and other administrative officials, will be formed to deliberate on the modalities about how the negative aspects of the festival can be avoided and overcome.
The provincial minister said the committee would give its recommendations within a week. “This time, Lahore’s population will surely celebrate Basant,” Chohan had said.
“The Supreme Court in its order had clarified that there was no restriction on holding the Basant festival and that it should be celebrated while staying within the ambit of law, as well as the rules and regulations defined by the government,” the minister said.
Chohan further claimed that citizens and the civil society had been demanding permission to organise Basant festivities for quite some time, following which Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar had sought recommendations about holding the Spring festival.
“The chief minister has said that Basant is a cultural festival, ‘it has no relation to religion. It is for enjoyment,'” the provincial information minister said.
The festival was banned by the top court in 2005 after several incidents of death from slitting of unsuspecting individuals’ throats. Negligence of safety rules and regulations also led to several deaths as a result of celebratory aerial gunfire and fatal falls from rooftops during the festival.
PML-N MPA MOVES RESOLUTION AGAINST BASANT:
Earlier on Wednesday, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) lawmaker Hina Pervaiz Butt submitted a resolution in the Punjab Assembly against the provincial government’s decision to lift the ban on Basant celebrations.
The lawmaker demanded that the Supreme Court take suo motu notice of the lifting of the ban as it violates the apex court’s 2005 order.
The provincial government passed a law against Basant celebrations in 2009, the resolution notes, adding that over a thousand lives have been lost due to kite-flying, hence the opposition will not allow the government to organise the festival on the expense of human lives.
The resolution demands that the provincial government take back the decision.