The Supreme Court of Pakistan has observed in an order issued in case regarding increase in prices of flour that according to the reports the fundamental constitutional rights to life may not be available presently to a substantial number of citizens.
According to the written order issued on Monday after hearing the petition filed by Liaquat Baloch, Secretary General Jamat-e-Islami made it clear that on the last date of hearing, we had for our own information constituted Committees for the four Provinces. The Committees have made on ground visits.
The court has maintained that from the reports of committees, it does appear that fundamental rights to life as given in Article 9 and a life of dignity as envisioned under Article 14 of the Constitution may not be available presently to a substantial number of citizens. This situation appears to be accepted by the learned Law Officers, it added.
Court has stated that it would however, be appropriate if we can have empirical data before us based on professionally and scientifically sound bases so that further proceedings and orders are grounded in facts which have been validated.
Court maintained that for this purpose, the names of certain institutions have been mentioned by some of the learned counsel before us. Dr. Shakeel Ahmed Khan, Food Security Commissioner has also provided some information. The same is for the purpose of our tentative assessment but again it is necessary that a more comprehensive survey is conducted by qualified professionals or institutions having appropriate expertise.
We would therefore, like to consider as to how relevant data can be made available to us. Some information based on data gathered by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics has been provided to us but the same is outdated. We also note that instances have been provided by Dr. Shakeel Ahmed Khan which vary vastly, court order says.
Court says while in one instance the price of essential food items per month has been given as Rs.6,200/-, there is another case where this amount comes to Rs.14,858/-. We may also add that these figures are in respect of the bare, essential food items required for survival of a family of four comprising 2 adults and 2 children. These figures do not even consider the needs of such family in respect of electricity, water, gas, traveling, school fees, clothing, shelter and a number of other items which are necessary for a reasonable life with dignity, order says.
The Governments of the Provinces and the Federation are charged with the responsibility of ensuring that the fundamental rights of the citizens of the State are met, adding that even amongst the principles of policy, it has been stipulated in Article 38(a) of the Constitution that the State shall secure the well-being of the people.
Court has said that ‘we are listing this petition for hearing during the next week on which date the Governments shall be heard and their actions to alleviate the abject condition of the citizens will be taken into account. We will also consider the possibility of seeking a study by professionally/ scientifically sound bodies or individuals to assist us in understanding if and to what extent, there may be deficiency in assuring the fundamental rights of the citizens, noted above. The hearing has been adjourned till 02.05.2014.