LAHORE: The Lahore High Court on Tuesday reserved the verdict on maintainability of petitions against the Ravi Riverfront Urban Development Project (RRUDP) as the Punjab government argued that the proceedings rendered infructuous after issuance of Ravi Urban Authority (Amendment) Ordinance 2021.
During the hearing, Advocate General of Punjab (AGP) Ahmad Awais said since the amended ordinance had been issued to cover legal infirmities the stay orders granted by the court stood vacated and the petitions were infructuous. He also argued that the courts could not interfere in the policy matters.
However, Justice Shahid Karim observed that the courts could interfere in policy matters if it infringed fundamental rights of the citizens. The judge observed that climate justice was an issue which had already been addressed by the superior courts. He remarked that the court could not refrain from invoking judicial review powers under its constitutional jurisdiction.
Justice Karim lamented that Lahore had become one of the most polluted cities in the world due to smog, which was a result of elimination of green areas. In this case, the judge had stayed the process of land acquisition for the project for not meeting the legal requirements and environmental laws.
In the light of the arguments by the government, the judge observed that the court would decide the maintainability of the petitions first. During the previous hearing, the judge had observed that the promulgation of the new ordinance would have no effect on the stay orders.
The petitioners, including farmers and landowners, argued that if the project was bereft of environmental impact assessment, then how the project could be presumed of public purpose. They said the project would deprive the farmers of their precious land and such deprivation was an infringement of fundamental rights.
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