LAHORE - The Lahore High Court on Thursday observed comments and analysis about cases pending with courts could not be released to media.

Lahore High Court Justice Umar Ata Bandial made these observations while disposing of a petition questioning ‘unnecessary’ coverage being given to former president General (retired) Pervez Musharraf in media. He also remarked that it was necessary for the freedom of judiciary that analysis or comments should not be made on the cases pending with courts, as there was limit regarding the freedom of expression under the Pemra Ordinance.

Justice Ata further said that the Special Court hearing Musharraf Treason Case could exercise its powers regarding unnecessary media coverage if it felt necessary. However, the LHC directed the petitioner to approach Pemra to avail the remedy.

Earlier, petitioner Advocate Afaq Ahmad’s counsel submitted that Musharraf abrogated the Constitution twice and imposed emergency in the country. He said the Election Commission of Pakistan disqualified him (Musharraf) for contesting elections invoking Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution. He argued that a special court was holding trial of the former military ruler under treason charges but Musharraf had been given unnecessary coverage despite being an accused. The supporters of Musharraf were also speaking in his favour audaciously, he said seeking the court to impose a ban on the unnecessary media coverage of Musharraf.

Meanwhile, the Lahore High Court sought reply from the Punjab government, DCO and Lahore Development Authority director general in response to a petition against the construction of parking plaza at Doongi Ground in Gulbreg in violation of the court orders.

Justice Ayesha A. Malik passed these orders on the petition moved by Faran Rafique Khan, a Gulberg resident.

As hearing started on Thursday, an assistant advocate general informed the court that the authorities concerned had not yet received the notices already issued by the court in this petition.

At this, the court again issued notices to the respondents for reply by February 20.

Earlier, the petitioner’s counsel submitted that the government was not submitting its reply in the court despite several orders. He added that the government was using delaying tactics, and pleaded to initiate contempt proceedings against the Punjab Chief Minister, Commissioner Lahore Division, Lahore DCO, LDA Chairman and others for disobeying the court orders. The judge put off the hearing for two weeks, directing the respondents to submit their reply.

The petitioner had submitted that the development and construction work was carried out without any permission and approval. He stated that the LHC’s full bench on September 16, 2011 had declared illegal the conversion of Doongi Ground into IMAX Theatre and other allied facilities. He contended the government and its departments had not complied with the court orders and started construction on the ground.

The lawyer pointed out that a contempt petition was pending with the court as the respondents didn’t pay any heed to the judgment.

Meanwhile, the respondents disregard to the contempt proceedings had once again accelerated the construction work at the site.

The petitioner requested the court that all the construction on the ground or any amendment in the scheme should be declared illegal. He also appealed to the court to take action against the officials involved in wasting the national kitty in the project.

Separately, the Lahore High Court dismissed petitions against the acquisition of land by the Punjab government to establish Garment City in Sheikhupura. The court had reserved its verdict last week after hearing arguments of the petitioners’ counsel and the government. In this case the court had also stayed the process of land acquisition.  The Anjuman-e-Mutasareen Garments City Sheikhupura and others had filed the petitions, stating that the government was acquiring 1,475 acre land for the project without protecting the rights of the petitioners.

Meanwhile, the Lahore High Court issued notices to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Wildlife Department and Punjab government on a petition against hunting of internationally protected houbara bustards and challenging 33 special permits issued to Arab Kings and their family members. The court directed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to submit a complete list of all the foreigners (Arab Kings and their family members) to whom special permits were issued for hunting houbara bustards for the season 2013-14. The court also directed international organisations –WWF and IUCN – to appear and assist the court in this connection on January 23.

The petition was moved by Naeem Sadiq through Advocate Kalim Ilyas. Advancing arguments, the lawyer submitted that the Pakistan Wildlife Ordinance 1971 prohibits hunting of houbara bustards especially when the birds are pregnant or accompanied by suckling birds.

According to an IUCN report, Pakistan is one of the 16 countries of the world known as the breeding place for houbara bustards. Hence, their hunting could not be allowed under the law, the lawyer pointed out.

He added even under the federal law, it was only the provincial government that could issue any licence and the federal government or its foreign ministry had no authority to issue such special permits or licences, as wildlife is a provincial subject after the 18th Amendment.

The Punjab Wildlife Act as amended in 2007, completely prohibits hunting of houbara bustards, the lawyer further pointed out. The petitioner requested the court to issue directions to the respondents to cancel all such special permits issued in blatant violation of the law.