Summons detailed report on import of wild animals
“How are people importing lions, big cats, and other endangered species? How are they keeping these wild animals in their homes?” the Islamabad High Court came down on the Federal Board of Revenue Monday.
At the hearing of a case pertaining to the illegal trade of lions, Justice Athar Minallah inquired the board about the procedure of importing wild animals and Pakistan’s laws regarding it.
“Endangered species are being brought into the country but they are kept in a dire state,” the court pointed out. “Where are officials from the FBR? Who will answer our questions?”
The lawyer of the board replied that in the last three years, not a single elephant was imported into the country. “We are not just asking about the elephants. What about the other animals?” Justice Minallah fired back.
A spokesperson of the Ministry of Climate Change told the court that keeping wild animals at home is a provincial matter. “It is not the prerogative of the federal– .”
“You can’t say that,” Justice Minallah interrupted, “Pakistan has a responsibility to abide by the international agreements. Are you trying to say that the federal government should violate these agreements?”
To this, the spokesperson assured the court that that was not the intention of the ministry. “But allowing people to import endangered species and letting them keep the animals at home IS a violation,” the chief justice pointed out.
The Ministry of Climate Change has not given anyone any permission to import lions or other wild animals, the spokesperson said.
The arguments by both the FBR and ministry failed to satisfy the court. Consequently, Justice Minallah summoned a detailed report on the import of all wild animals from them and adjourned the hearing.
According to the Pakistan Trade Control of Wild Fauna and Flora Act, 2012, here are the requirements for importing a wild animal into the country:
Meanwhile, Article 9 of the Constitution guarantees and protects the fundamental right to life and liberty of all living beings. The Islamabad High Court has, in the Kaavan verdict, held that subjecting an animal to unnecessary pain and suffering is not only an offence under the law but a breach of the constitutionally guaranteed right to life under the law.
Section 12 has led to wild animals being “unnecessarily deprived of their natural habitats”. They are kept in confined spaces for “mere entertainment of humans with little to zero supervision from the concerned authorities”. These animals are often “tortured, ill-treated, food-deprived, mishandled, drugged, agitated and exposed to worst living conditions” which affects their mental and physical well-being.