The Supreme Court of Pakistan has made it clear that the sacrifices of people would never allowed to go in waste while the federal and provincial governments are duty bound for provision of the constitutional rights given in articles 9, 14 and 38. The issue regarding increase in prices of basic necessities of would be brought to its logic conclusion, it added.
A three-member SC bench comprising Justice Jawwad S. Khawaja, Justice Gulzar Ahmed and Justice Muhammad Ather Saeed heard the case filed by Liaqat Baloch, Secretary Jamat-e-Islami on Tuesday.
The apex court has sought detailed report regarding adequate steps taken to resolve the problem and to ensure delivery of essential food items to the poor segments of society at affordable prices, adding that it is for Executive Governments to ensure that the problem is resolved in a timely manner.
The order of says that court has been hearing this case from time to time since October, 2013. The effort is to ensure that the Federal Govt. and the four Provincial Governments take adequate steps for making essential foodstuffs available to the most vulnerable segments of society.
The court has observed that the four committees formed by the court
on14.04.2014, one for each Province have submitted reports. Adding that although these were tentative in nature and in fact in the Province of Balochistan, substantial areas were not accessible to the committee for Balochistan, we came to the tentative conclusion that the submissions made by the Provinces that flour (Atta) at affordable prices was available throughout the country, might not be correct.
The apex court maintained that it is for the Executive Governments to make sure that the fundamental rights and relevant Constitutional Provisions such as Articles 9, 14 and 38 are complied with.
During the course of hearing Seerat Asghar, Secretary, Ministry of National Food Security and Research acknowledged that although there is sufficient production of essential food items, the storage and distribution system is inadequate and as a result, vulnerable segments of society are not receiving sustainable nutrition. Thus, there is acknowledgment that the issue exists.
The apex court ordered that it must be shown to the Court firstly that adequate steps have been taken to resolve the problem and to ensure delivery of essential food items to the poorer segments of society at affordable prices. Secondly, it is for Executive Governments to ensure that the problem is resolved in a timely manner.
Secretary, Ministry of National Food Security and Research said that there are ways in which the problem noted above can be addressed.
The court ordered Secretary to coordinate with the four Provincial Governments and shall submit a comprehensive report, which will set out firstly, the steps envisaged by the Governments, secondly, the objectives to be achieved and thirdly, the time frame within which the objectives will be achieved so that the constitutional obligation imposed on the governments by inter alia Articles 9, 14, 38 are fulfilled.
Apex court directed that the Law Officers present shall assist the Court on the question as to the order which can be passed in this case and the constitutional consequences of the failure of the five Executive Governments, if the constitutional requirement of the aforesaid provisions cannot be met.
Meanwhile Senator Malik Rafique Rajwana was appointed as amicus curiae in this case and he had rendered some assistance to the Court on the previous date of hearing but on Tuesday he was statedly part of an official delegation and he has gone out of the Country, and due to his return on 19.05.2014 the case has been adjourned for 20.05.2014.
The court issued notice to Attorney General for Pakistan and the Advocate General of the four Provinces so that the hearing and proceedings in this very important constitutional case can be charted out and properly regulated. Thereafter, depending upon the outcome of the hearing on 20.05.2014, further hearing may be ordered, SC ordered.
During the course of hearing Justice Jawwad S Khawaja rmarked that flour, fertilizer, vegetables and other commodities are being smuggled to various countries through Chamman border.
He said that it is a serious issue but government has to take concrete steps for solution of the issues, adding that more than five months have been passed but no progress has been made by the federal and provincial governments yet.
How long the issue would prevail in the country, it is an issue of basic rights of the citizens so the government has to assure that citizens would not die due to shortage of food in future and employees of grade 1 to 07 would be able to fulfill their needs of daily life, Justice Jawad Remarked.
Meanwhile Justice Gulzar said that the failure of state institutions comes before the nation in every case and advocate general sindh has to keep care of the people living in Tharparkar district.
Taufiq Asif advocate appeared on behalf of JI senior leader Liaqat Baloch, Naib Ameer Jamat Islami Pakistan Mian Muhammad Aslam also was present in the court while Additional Attorney General Syed Attique Shah, Secretary,Ministry of National Food Security & Research Seerat Asghar, , Food Security Commissioner Dr. Shakeel Ahmed Khan, Chief Agricultural Policy Institute Abdur Rauf Chaudhry, Chief Nutrition, Planning Commission Aslam Shaheen, Ms. Rabia Awan, CSO, PBS, Shaukat Zaman, Director PBS, additional advocate general Balochistan Farid Dogar, additional advocate general KPK Zahid Yousaf Qureshi, Addl, additional advocate general Punjab Razzaq A. Mirza, Addl and additional advocate general Sindh Qasim Mirjat also appeared in the court.