No kite flying on Basant, Pakistan Supreme Court rules
Jan 23, 2007 - 2:22:28 PM

Islamabad, Jan 23 - The spring festival of Basant has once again come under a cloud with the Pakistan Supreme Court disallowing kite flying, an integral part of the celebration, on grounds of safety.

The Supreme Court Monday rejected a Punjab government plea seeking permission for kite flying in the province, taking a dim view of announcements and preparations made despite the ban.

What began as a matter of concern for the safety of those who fly kites from rooftops and other risky places and as a hazard caused by the use of wire instead of traditional string has escalated into a politico-legal issue.

A large number of deaths caused by falling off rooftops while flying kites are reported each year. The use of use of wire also disrupts power supply and is known to slit throats of people, particularly children.

The bench disliked the Punjab government's move and asked it to tell the court how many people had reportedly been killed during last year's Basant, The News said Tuesday.

A nine-member bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry directed the Punjab chief secretary to explain why an announcement for celebrating the Basant festival was made when there was a complete ban on kite flying.

The bench summoned a record of a press conference by Planning and Development Commission Chairman Salman Ghani announcing that the Basant festival would be celebrated in the Punjab Feb 25.

The chief justice also asked the reporter of a private TV channel to provide the footage of the press conference.

Punjab Advocate General Chaudhry Aftab Iqbal told the bench that the 'Prohibition of Kite Flying Amendment Ordinance, 2007' had been promulgated on Jan 20. It empowered district officials to allow kite flying for a period of 15 days during the spring season.

The apex court reacted by observing: 'It is now provincial duty to keep law and order. The Supreme Court will not become a party in this case at this stage because when people die due to kite flying, people criticise the Supreme Court. Now this time we will keep ourselves aloof and the onus for - during Basant will be on the Punjab government.'

The Supreme Court had imposed a ban on manufacturing, flying, selling and buying of kites across the country last year. The Punjab government held a Basant festival in 2006 in the name of Jashn-e-Baharan after seeking relaxation from the Supreme Court.

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