Schools in residential areas: Supreme Court angered by lenient govt timeframe

Published: October 27, 2016

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Wednesday expressed its dissatisfaction over the three -year timeframe given by the federal government to shift private schools out of residential areas in the federal capital.

A three-member bench, headed by Chief Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali, questioned whether the court has to wait three years for the law to be implemented. The bench was hearing a case related to the non-conforming use of buildings.

During the hearing, Additional Attorney General Chaudhry Amir Rehman stated that the federal government proposed a three-year timeframe to shift private schools from residential areas. However, the bench was not satisfied with the specified period.

AAG Chaudhry Amir stated that the timeframe had been outlined in the larger interest of students, adding an immediate shift may affect their studies.

The chief justice quipped that’s it had become part of “our culture” to compromise on every issue.

Justice Azmat Saeed Sheikh warned that all residential houses occupied by government departments in the federal capital must be vacated by the next date of hearing in this case. The hearing of the case was adjourned till the first week of December, 2016.

Earlier, the Capital Development Authority (CDA) submitted a report, stating that federal departments were still occupying 13 residential houses. The CDA submitted a list of the government departments at the Supreme Court in a case related to the non-conforming use of buildings. The authority added it had issued a final warning to vacate the residences otherwise they would be sealed without further notice.

So far 725 houses have been brought to conforming use. As a result, the total number of non-conforming use cases was reduced to 641 houses which have 359 schools, 90 hostels and 100 guesthouses.

The CDA told the SC that it has also taken action against the guesthouses and hostels. It added 10 guesthouses have been sealed and the drive was successful as people were voluntarily bringing hostels and guesthouses to conforming use. The authority stated that the Islamabad Police Inspector General was requested for assistance when taking action against the guesthouses. It said a few guesthouse owners approached the IHC against the CDA’s action. The hearing of that matter is fixed for October 27.

The CDA has also started taking action against media houses and they have started complying with court orders. A private channel has requested for time to shift out of its office established in G6/4.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 27th, 2016.


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