PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court has suspended an order of a trial court to vacate Shamshato Refugee Camp and pay rent to the owner of the property on which the camp was established. The court also ordered retrial of the case.
The order was suspended by a division bench, comprising Justice Nisar Hussain and Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth, after it was challenged by Afghan refugee commissioner.
When the hearing commenced, commissioner’s counsel Iftikhar Yousafzai said the camp was set up in 1986 after an influx of refugees started following the war in Afghanistan.
He said the distressed refugees set up camps and the government facilitated them by providing basic facilities.
He informed the court that it was occupied by the refugees and not by the commissioner in 1986. The counsel said they approached the court for the return of the land in 2006.
Justice Hussain repeated the owner’s claim that the land was not acquired as per the law. Yousafzai replied that at one place he claimed the land was not acquired, while at another place he admitted that it was acquired but there was no written agreement.
Besides, Yousafzai said Afghan refugees were not made party to the case and requested the bench to suspend the trial court verdict.
Shakil Ahmad, who represented owner of the land Gul Bahar, argued this was a registered camp set up by the government.
He added it was not acquired under the Land Acquisition Act and a tubewell was also installed there which proved it was a sanctioned refugee camp.
Ahmad argued, “The camp is still under the occupation of refugees that should be vacated and the government should compensate the owner.”
Justice Hussain asked him what kind of compensation he was demanding. Ahmad replied the government should pay the rent for the property spread over 218 kanal of area.
The bench, after hearing the arguments, suspended the trial court ruling and ordered it to rehear the case.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 6th, 2016.
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