Human Rights Case No. 20107-G/2013 (Action on News clipping in the daily “Dawn” dated 26.05.2013 regarding incident of burning of school van in Gujrat)
Supreme Court of Pakistan
Human Rights Case No. 20107-G/2013
9 December 2013
Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, Article 9: right to life
On its own motion, the Court under Article 184(3) of the Constitution issued this decision on the basis of a news item that appeared in the daily “Dawn” in May 2013, reporting on the deaths of 16 children after a school van caught fire.
Issue and resolution:
Right to life. Several government agencies were held criminally responsible for the deaths. Additionally, the Punjab government was ordered to provide compensation to the families of the deceased.
All of the responsible agencies had violated their responsibilities and duties as given to them by various regulations concerning motor vehicles, oil and gas, and the use of CNG cylinders in vehicles.
In its reasoning, the Court discussed Article 9 of the Constitution, which guarantees the protection of the life of citizens. It is the duty of the State to ensure such protection by following relevant laws which are made to protect and preserve life. In defining the right to “life”, the Court referred to previous decisions in which it has held that life “includes all such amenities and facilities which a person born in a free country is entitled to enjoy with dignity, legally and constitutionally.” The Court is empowered to bring proceedings on its own “because a large number of citizens throughout the country cannot make such representation and may not like to make it due to ignorance, poverty and disability.”
This decision illustrates how the Court on its own motion can respond quickly to such incidents and find government agencies criminally negligent, and require steps to be taken to ensure children are protected from harm.
Link to Full Judgment:
This case summary is provided by the Child Rights International Network for educational and informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice.