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Thar Petition

Thar Petition

CP No. 1181 of 2014 [PILER and Others vs. Federation of Pakistan and Others]

The reason why the aforementioned Petition was filed was that in the year 2014, over 200 people in Tharparkar and neighboring areas of Sindh died during the onslaught of drought, which exposed the negligence of the Provincial Government that failed to ensure provision of food and basic health facilities within the drought hit areas. By filing the said Petition, PILER and other Petitioners sought justice and enforcement of fundamental rights for the victims, the survivors and their families. The Petitioners sought directions against the Provincial Government to conduct an investigation into the ongoing Tharparkar tragedy, assign responsibility and criminal liability, pay compensation to the affected families and establish a Commission to monitor the Sindh Government’s constitutional obligation to implement the right to food of the citizens and persons living in Sindh.

During the course of litigation, the following reports were submitted before the Honourable Court:

    • DIG Hyderabad, Dr. Sanaullah Abbasi tendered a report in compliance of the Honourable Court’s Order dated 25.03.2014. In that, Mr. Abbasi highlights a number of possible reasons behind the deaths that occurred in the drought that hit Tharparkar. He at the very outset points out, that the region of Tharparkar is prone to droughts and knowing this, the administration should have been prepared to deal with the situation well in advance. The report notes that summaries for declaring Tharparkar as a Calamity Affected Area, Liabilities on Account of Transportation Costs and Clearance of Past Liabilities on Account of Wheat were accepted months after being moved for approval but it was the delay in implementation of any concrete plan to ensure provision of resources in the aforementioned region and the gross negligence in dealing with this situation that resulted in loss of lives.
    • The Haunting Footprints of Drought, Hunger and Poor Governance: This was a report submitted by the National Commission for Human Rights after a visit to Tharparkar from 9th March 2016 to 11th March 2016 by their delegation led by Justice (R) Ali Nawaz Chowhan. The prime focus of the delegation was to assess the situation in the region hit by the drought. Their assessment led to the observations that inaccessibility to food, poor healthcare and water supply, non-coherent system of declaration of drought and lack of government relief efforts were factors behind the Tharparkar crisis
    • Thar Commission Report: A Commission for ‘Thar Drought’ was constituted in compliance of the Honourable Sindh High Court’s Order dated 17.03.2016 vide notification dated 21.03.2016. The primary mandate given to the Commission was to enquire into the causes of the current drought crisis in Tharparkar and how they were dealt with by the administration; to ascertain as to whose responsibility it was to remedy the situation; and to suggest further recommendations in helping cure or prevent such problems in the future. The Commission observed that there were numerous reasons that were behind the tragedy that occurred in Tharparkar, namely, improper management and governance, poor health care infrastructure, lack of timely decisions, lack of coordination between departments to mitigate the crisis in Tharparkar, inadequate water supply, food crisis, legal issues involved in declaration of drought as the Calamities Act 1958, under which droughts are announced, assumes that droughts are not a regular feature of Thar’s environment, poor planning in respect to prioritized and focused investment and resource allocation; frequent transfer and postings of concerned government officials in the district; and most importantly gaps in government relief efforts. The Commission, in conclusion gave some recommendations that include but are not limited to constituting a monitoring team at the provincial level having various representatives of the concerned departments, having a mechanism for healthcare and social protection, managing water resources appropriately, drafting a separate Drought Policy for Thar etc.

The Honourable High Court of Sindh, disposed of the petition, vide its Order dated 17.03.2016.

The following documents are available for viewing online:

  1. Memo of Constitutional Petition
  2. High Court Order dated 25.03.2014 
  3. High Court Order dated 17.03.2016 
  4. Report by Dr. Sanaullah Abbasi, Deputy Inspector General Police Hyderabad.
  5. The Haunting Footprints of Drought, Hunger and Poor Governance: report submitted by the National Commission for Human Rights
  6. Thar Commission Report

HRC No. 8991-S of 2017 [In the matter of death of 5 more infants at Civil Hospital in Mithi due to Malnutrition and diseases]

On the basis of Newspaper Article on 15.03.2017, Human Right Complaint was filed before the Honourable Supreme Court of Pakistan, regarding the death of five more infants at Civil Hospital in Mithi due to Malnutrition and diseases. The Honourable Supreme Court took Suo Moto on the basis of the aforementioned Complaint. The Honourable Chief Justice of Supreme Court ordered Sindh Government to file its report in this regard. The Secretary to the Government of Sindh, Health Department & Deputy Commissioner, Tharparkar at Mathi submitted its report before the Honourable Supreme Court of Pakistan on 17.04.2017. The Secretary Health Department, Government of Sindh also submitted its report along with the comprehensive report of Director General, Health Services, Sindh, on 27.04.2017. The detailed report of Deputy Commissioner, Umerkot, was also submitted on 01.06.2017.

On 07.03.2018, the Honourable Supreme Court showed its dissatisfaction with the reports filed by Secretary Health, Sindh, about the causes of death of five infants in Civil Hospital Mithi, as the general reasons were provided therein.

On 31.03.2018, the Honourable Supreme Court Ordered that the Reports submitted by the Sindh Government about the cause of death of infants in Mithi and Nawab Shah be sent to Mr. Hans Kedzierski, CEO, Aga Khan University Hospital, Karachi, who shall constitute a team of experts for the purpose of inquiry, taking into account all aspects of the matter. The report shall be submitted within one month answering the question whether the death of the infants has taken place on account of the causes mentioned in the report of the Sindh Government or otherwise.

The Intervenor Application was filed on behalf of Pakistan Institute of Labour Education & Research (PILER) before the Honourable Supreme Court to implead PILER as Respondent in this case, as PILER had previously filed a Constitution Petition in Sindh High Court against Sindh Government for failing to ensure the fundamental rights of the people of Tharparkar who suffered immensely, at the cost of their lives and health, due to the negligence of the Federation and Province in failing to ensure provision of resources and food during the drought and famine.

On 12.05.2018, Aga Khan University Hospital submitted two reports as per the previous Order of the Supreme Court. The first report was on the death of infants at Civil Hospital in Mithi due to Malnutrition and the other one was on the death of children due to Measles vaccination. The Honourable Supreme Court also allowed PILER Intervenor Application and impleaded it as a party in the present case.

On 20.06.2018, the Honourable Court passed the following Orders:

  1. Since nearly 70% of the posts of the Health Professionals and Doctors in Thar are currently vacant, the Secretary Health, Sindh has been directed to fill the said nearly 70% vacant posts by making appointments within two months;
  2. AIG, Mr. Sanaullah Abbasi, has been appointed as the Commissioner and has been directed to verify whether the improvements mentioned in the Report submitted by the Health Secretary have in fact been made and submitt the issues/loopholes and deficiencies in the Report and otherwise;
  3. The Sindh Drug Testing Laboratory shall be made operational within next two months;
  4. On the next date of hearing, the Honourable Court will determine whether the families of the deceased should be compensated, the mode, manner and quantum of compensation, and who should be responsible for compensating the families of the deceased, and whether criminal proceedings should be initiated against those whose negligence caused the aforementioned deaths.

By its Order dated: 01.09.2018, the Honourable Supreme Court of Pakistan directed the Additional Chief Secretary Health, Sindh, to submit a detailed report as to the progress of making functional the Drug Testing Laboratory

The report of the Commission constituted vide Order dated: 20.06.2018 was submitted to the Court and direction was given to the Government of Sindh and the Health Department of Sindh to file comments on the same within a period of one week. Further, directions were issued to the Government of Sindh and the Additional Chief Secretary Health to hold a meeting with the fathers of the minors in order to consider their grievances and to submit a report of the same with the Court

By Order dated: 26.10.2018, the Honourable Supreme Court of Pakistan directed that the learned Advocate General, who stated that he himself had visited Thar and that the living conditions there were not as serious as that depicted in the media and that the Government of Sindh has undertaken steps in regards improving such conditions in Thar, to submit a report of the steps undertaken and to be undertaken by the Government of Sindh to improve the conditions in Thar within a period of two weeks.

The Human Right Case is pending adjudication

The following documents are available for viewing online:

  1. Memo of Intervenor Application
  2. Newspaper Article dated 15.03.2017
  3. Supreme Court Order dated 07.03.2018 
  4. Supreme Court Order dated 31.03.2018 
  5. Supreme Court Order dated 12.05.2018 
  6. Aga Khan University Hospital report on the death of infants at Civil Hospital in Mithi due to Malnutrition
  7. Aga Khan University Hospital report on the death of children due to Measal vaccination.
  8. Supreme Court Order dated 20.06.2018 
  9. Supreme Court Order dated: 01.09.2018 
  10. Supreme Court Order dated: 26.10.2018

Thar Crisis, HRC No. 71310-G of 2018, ‘In the matter regarding death of 400 infants in Thar due to malnutrition and disease’

In its order dated 27.12.2018, the Honorable Supreme Court of Pakistan took note of the grave situation faced by the people of Thar, particularly in the areas of health, education and food. The Supreme Court of Pakistan directed the Sindh Government to immediately set up Thar Development Authority (TDA) with the mandate to draft and implement development policies for Thar.

Further, it was pleased to constitute an independent monitoring system that would ensure implementation of policies and conscientious use of the funds available to the government and to the aforementioned TDA. A committee has duly been constituted by the Honorable Supreme Court and has mandated the said Committee to arrange monthly visits or obtain monthly reports regarding the implementation of various initiatives and projects dealing with public health, education and nutrition in Thar. The members of this Committee are: A representative of the Sindh Government; District and Sessions Judge Tharparkar; Dr. Tipu Sultan; and, Dr. Sono Khanghrani.

The said Committee is required to send reports for action to the Sindh Government and file a consolidated report to the Supreme Court of Pakistan, every three months, for perusal in Chambers.

The Committee has submitted its first report to the Honorable Supreme Court.

The following documents are available for viewing online:

  1. Supreme Court Order dated: 27.12.2018