2009 PLD 22 LAHORE-HIGH-COURT-LAHORE
GOVERNMENT OF PUNJAB through Chief Secretary
S. 3—Constitution of Pakistan (1973), Art. 199(1)(i)(ii)(c) & (2), 9 & 38(d)—Public interest litigation—Constitutional petition—Maintainability—Contentions of the petitioner were that Polythene Bags were causing havoc in various areas of the society i.e. Sewerage System in the cities; agricultural in the rural life, marine life on the coastal areas, public health; spread of dangerous diseases like cancer; that use of bags was making sOil infertile; that said bags could not be disposed of through recycling for many reasons, i.e. decomposition of polythene material was not possible; that disposal through burning of polythene was harmful as it released toxic Gas es like dioxins which had cancerous effects on health and could also cause respiratory problem, thus, after use of polythene bags for a short period, same could not be disposed of by throwing, dumping or by burning; that some legislation had been done in the Province of Punjab but neither same was effective nor was being implemented by the authorities and that authorities had failed to perform their functions as required under the Constitution and the law on the subject—Authorities had not denied the negative effects and damage being caused by manufacture and use of polythene bags and submitted that some measures had been taken but were not in favour of putting a complete ban on manufacturing and sale of the same on the ground of likely unemployment of thousand s of people engaged in manufacture etc.—High Court expressed the destruction caused by polythene bags and observed that contents of constitutional petition and contentions of the petitioner, did not relate to his person or any individual instead they related to `life’ of the people of Pakistan, hence to fulfil the requirements of pro bond publico and petitioner being an aggrieved party constitutional petition was maintainable under Art.199 of the Constitution; that “hanging from the branches, flying in the air, stuck in corners and racing along with vehicles on roads, one could see them everywhere; these were the polythene bags which had invaded every aspect of life; that it was all over the places messing up the streets and parks, clogging the drains and gutters; that hundreds and thousand s of plastic bags were thrown away every day as waste, this otherwise innocent mistake of throwing them everywhere results in choke drains, bacterial germination, waterborne diseases and spread of mosquitoes; that deposited in high quantities in the fields, polythene bags cause sOil infertility; that plastic waste when dumped or thrown into rivers, ponds or sea have disastrous effects; that threat to environment through pollution and other means was not allowed being threat to life of citizens, which was being done in the garb or name of business activity and that authorities had not really appreciated and realized gravity and depth of hazard and destruction being posed by the menace known as polythene bags that was why, though they did not deny threat or the damage being caused but still had taken a very lenient view—High Court, in circumstances, issued directions to the authorities to the effect that authorities shall ensure; that strict enforcement and compliance of provisions of the Punjab Prohibition on Manufacture, Use, Sale and Import of Polythene Bags (Black Or Polythene Bags Below Fifteen Micron Thickness) Ordinance, 2002 and also cause registration of criminal cases against the offenders under the provisions of the Ordinance and Pakistan Penal Code relevant provisions provided under Chapter XIV of the Code; that in view of catastrophic losses being caused by the polythene shopping bags, the authorities shall initiate necessary measures for required legislation, within six months, for an absolute ban on manufacture, sale, marketing, use and import, etc. of polythene shopping bags of all kinds whatsoever and there will be a complete prohibition, after six months from today, on manufacture, sale, use, stock, marketing and import, etc. of polythene shopping bags within the Punjab Province—Petitioner or any other citizen might file a contempt petition if present order of High Court was not complied with and in the meanwhile authorities shall substitute the polythene shopping bags with alternatives and that authorities were further directed to take some definite and positive steps to create awareness, amongst the people, of disastrous effects being caused by use of polythene bags.