Original language


Date of text
Type of court
National - higher court
Court name
Supreme Court of Pakistan
Reference number
Human Rights Case No. 120 of 1993
Evidence, Inspections, Human Rights
Free tags
Mineral resources
Rafiqtarar, M.
Akhtar, S.
A Petition was filed in the Supreme Court under Article 184 (3) of the Constitution seeking to restrain the pollution of the water supply source to the residents and mine workers of Khewra. The spring, Mitha Pattan, was the only major source of drinking water in the area. Accordingly, a water catchment area was reserved and grants of mining leases in the area were prohibited prior to 1911. Notwithstanding the prohibition, the authorities concerned had granted mining leases in the catchment area. The Petitioners alleged that as a result, poisonous waste water discharged from the mines was polluting the reservoir creating a health hazard. It was argued that the allotment and grant of leases for mining in the catchment area was illegal and made in bad faith, and prayed for cancellation of licenses. The claim of the Petitioners, though framed in general terms, sought enforcement of the right of the residents to clean and unpolluted water. The Court allowed the petition stating that persons exposed to such danger were entitled to claim that their fundamental right to life, guaranteed to them by the Constitution, had been violated and that there was a case for enforcement of fundamental rights by giving directions or passing orders to restrain the parties and authorities from committing such a violation or order them to perform their duties. Quoting Article 184(3) of the Constitution, the Court observed that "It is well established that in human rights cases/public interest litigation under Article 184(3), the procedural trappings and restrictions, precondition of being an aggrieved person and other similar technical objections cannot bar the jurisdiction of the Court. This Court has vast power under Article 184(3) to investigate into questions of fact as well, independently, by recording evidence or appointing commissions or any other reasonable and legal manner to ascertain the correct position. Article 184(3) provides that this Court has power to make orders of the nature mentioned in Article 199. The fact that the Order or direction should be in the nature mentioned in Article 199 enlarges the scope of granting relief and the relief so granted by this Court can be moulded according to the facts and circumstances of each case." Accordingly, the Court proceeded to deal with the facts relevant to the question whether the mining activity could pollute the water supply and made an Order directing that PCC should shift within four months from the location of the mouth of mine 27A to a safe distance from the stream and small reservoir. The Court also appointed a Commission with powers of inspection, recording evidence etc. to monitor the implementation of the Orders. Additionally all the mines operating adjacent to the catchment area were to take measures to the satisfaction of the Commission which would prevent pollution of the reservoir, stream and catchment area. The authorities concerned were also ordered not to grant new licenses in the catchment area or to renew old ones referred to in a schedule, without the prior approval of Court.