ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court has directed the Capital Development Authority (CDA) to furnish a list of government departments, which have been functioning in residential areas, causing blockade of roads and streets.
A three-member Supreme Court bench headed by Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed on Monday resumed hearing of petitions challenging non-conforming use of residential areas in the federal capital.
Justice Azmat while commenting on the shifting of private schools from residential areas remarked that the legislation was the domain of the executive but laws were made ‘against public in the name of public interest’.
“We know that making laws is the job of the government, but laws are being enacted against public interest in the name of public interest,” he observed.
During the course of hearing, Ali Raza, the counsel for petitioner, told the court that over 100 guest houses were operating in residential areas and the civic agency was delaying the (shifting) matter deliberately.
“They (the local administration) themselves are responsible for functioning of private schools in residential areas. They knew it from the very beginning that permission cannot be given for private schools to operate in residential areas and even then they allowed,” he said.
Additional Attorney General Amirur Rehman and CDA counsel Shahid Hamid submitted a compliance report in the court. According to the report, obstacles outside two embassies have been removed while offices of Islamabad Police Inspector-General (IG) and IG motorway police had been shifted from residential areas. Similarly, the process of legislation was under way for shifting of private schools from residential areas and studies of children could be affected if 359 schools were shifted in haste.
The report further said that no exemption could be made for donor agencies and NGOs illegally using residential houses as their offices. The report claimed that the CDA had not allowed any party non-confirming use of residential areas ‘on the principle of necessity’.
The report also referred to the Islamabad High Court’s January 20, 2015 order, wherein it was stated that the CDA was not vested with powers to allow commercialisation of residential buildings in the light of the CDA Building Regulations 2005.
The bench directed the CDA to remove commercial activities from residential areas, shift foreign embassies to Diplomatic Enclave and enact legislation with regard to private schools. The hearing was adjourned for two weeks.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 12th, 2016.
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