Leghari v. Federation of Pakistan

From Climate Litigation

Leghari v. Federation of Pakistan was the first climate case in Pakistan. As with Urgenda, it is an example of a court ruling a government's response to climate change to be insufficient, making it one of the most important climate litigation precedents.

In the case, Ashgar Leghari, a farmer, sued the national government for failing to carry out the National Climate Change Policy of 2012 and the Framework for Implementation of Climate Change Policy (2014-2030). The case was decided in favor of Leghari and the Pakistani government was ordered to take additional steps to address climate change.

Background[edit]

Ashgar Leghari, a law student and farmer, brought the case as an individual petitioner. He sued the national government for a general failure to carry out the National Climate Change Policy of 2012 and the Framework for Implementation of Climate Change Policy (2014-2030). Leghari argued that the government had failed to take adaptive steps to protect food, water, and energy security from climate change, a failure which violated the fundamental rights of Pakistanis.

Relevant Law and Principles[edit]

Ruling[edit]

In 2015, the Lahore High Court ruled in favor of Leghari, finding "the delay and lethargy of the State in implementing the Framework offend the fundamental rights of the citizens." As a remedy, the court 1) directed several government ministries to each nominate "a climate change focal person" to help ensure the implementation of the Framework, and to present a list of action points by December 31, 2015; and 2) created a Climate Change Commission composed of representatives of key ministries, NGOs, and technical experts to monitor the government's progress. On September 14 the court issued a supplemental decision naming 21 individuals to the Commission and vesting it with various powers. On January 25, 2018, the court issued took note of the submission of a report from the Climate Change Committee noting that during the period from September 2015 to January 2017 66% of the priority actions from the Framework for Implementation Climate Change Policy have been implemented[1].

Takeaways[edit]

The Leghari decision was a landmark ruling. It was the first climate change case from the Global South to generate world-wide scholarly and journalistic attention.[2] The decision rested upon rights guaranteed under the Pakistani Constitution, specifically Article 9 (the right to life) and Article 14 (inviolability of human dignity), as well as international environmental law principles such as the public trust doctrine and precautionary principle.[2] The Leghari case established a constitutional right to a clean and healthy environment and a climate capable of sustaining human life, a right which has served as a foundation for other cases in Pakistan such as Ali v. Federation of Pakistan.

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