Syed Mansoor Ali Shah v. Government of Punjab

CLD 533
Download Judgment: English
Country: Pakistan
Region: Asia
Year: 2007
Court: High Court
Health Topics: Environmental health
Human Rights: Right to a clean environment, Right to life
Tags: Pollution

Mr. Syed Mansoor Ali Shah petitioned the High Court at Lahore, asserting that air pollution from vehicular emissions had severely affected human life by causing citizens to suffer diseases. Under Rule 163 of the Provincial Motor Vehicles Rules 1969, the owner of a vehicle was required by law to properly maintain the vehicle so that it did not cause damage or annoyance to any other person or property or endanger the safety of any other users of the roads. Vehicles were also required under the rules to be fitted with efficient appliances for the purpose of preventing emissions of sparks or grit.  The Regional Transport Authority, however, had been issuing Fitness Certificates to transport vehicles which did not meet these required standards. The Petitioners sought to direct the State of Punjab to enforce the law so as to arrest the growing problem of air pollution.

The Court held that the failure to maintain vehicles so as to comply with safe levels of emissions was an infringement of Article 9 and 14 of the Constitution and of Pakistan’s international obligations. It considered that Pakistan had signed international environmental treaties obligating the state to take effective measures to eliminate vehicular pollution, and that preserving and protecting the dignity of man was a fundamental right of citizens guaranteed under articles 9 and 14 of the Constitution. As the pollution in question was creating health hazards, it was a deprivation of life guaranteed under Articles 9 and 14 of the Constitution.  In addition, the nuisance caused by air pollution was punishable under the Penal Code and was contrary to provisions the Pakistan Environmental Protection Act, 1979.

The Court therefore ordered that existing measures and recommendations for the control and maintenance of vehicles, air quality and fuel standards, capacity building and monitoring/inspection stations be implemented, and ordered the creation of an independent commission to monitor the Government’s response to the judgment.

“Vehicular pollution needs elimination, which can be achieved by following the manner opted by the august Court in the above referred judgment 1996 SCMR 543.” Para. 14.

“The question of issuance of writ jurisdiction in the instant proceedings is not in issue as suggestions and recommendations of the Commission were finalized and approved by associating the stakeholders like manufacturers of Rickshaws, Motor-cycles etc. on one hand and various bodies of the Federal as well as Provincial Governments on the other hand.” Para. 15.