KARACHI: Cantonment board area residents have been given a much-needed, albeit brief, respite from one of the numerous charges they are obligated to pay for civic amenities, as the Sindh High Court (SHC) suspended operation of a notification regarding the imposition and recovery of parking fees within the administrative jurisdictions of Karachi's nine cantonment boards till November.
The order was passed on Friday by a two-judge bench, comprising justices Nadeem Akhtar and Arshad Hussain. The matter was taken to court by the Sea Breeze Plaza Owners' Welfare Association, which named the defence ministry, Karachi Cantonment Board (KCB) chief executive officer (CEO), a private contractor and the SHO of the Saddar police station as respondents.
The petitioner had challenged the legality of a notification issued by the CEO of the KCB imposing a fee on parking on certain roads within its jurisdiction and the subsequent authorisation of a private contractor to recover this fee.
The association's lawyer, Salahuddin Gandapur, informed the judges that the KCB CEO had, on September 4 this year, issued the notification through which certain places were designated as charged parking areas on different roads.
These designated parking spaces included Sarwar Shaheed Road in the front of the Karachi Press Club and on the Coast Guard side, Sabir Baig Shaheed Road, Raja Ghazanfar Ali Khan Road, Aziz Bhatti Shaheed Road, Saghir Hussain Shaheed Road, Kayani Shaheed Road, a portion of Sharae Faisal from Faisal Bank to Dadabhoy Building, Abbasi Shaheed Road, FTC Building and Muslim Colony.
The lawyer argued that Sea Breeze Plaza is not located on the service road but the cantonment's management still had designated it as a paid parking space. A private contractor, Ejaz Ali Khaskheli, had also been authorised to recover the fee.
Gandapur said the private contractor was authorised to collect the fee of Rs40 for four-wheel vehicles and Rs20 for two-wheel vehicles, effective October 4. Apart from this, the contract charged Rs200 for parking of any vehicle for the whole day, he added.
He argued that the cantonment board's CEO had no legal powers to impose a parking fee and award a contract for its recovery under the provisions of the Cantonments Act, 1929. No parking fee has been mentioned in the taxes or charges that the cantonment boards are authorised to impose and collect under the said act, the lawyer contended.
Gandapur argued that the act of levying such fee and awarding the contract to a private party for its recovery are therefore illegal, unauthorised and in violation of the Cantonments Act, 1929, and the subsequent by-laws.
The association pleaded the court to declare that the KCB's CEO has no powers to levy parking fee or authorise any private contractor for its recovery from the residents.
After hearing initial arguments, the court suspended the operation of the notification in question in the limits of the KCB till November 15. It also restrained all the cantonment boards of the city from levying and collecting such fee from residents till the next date of hearing.
Meanwhile, the court also issued notices to the secretary of the defence ministry, the KCB CEO, Khaskheli and the SHO of the Saddar police station to file their comments by the next date of the hearing.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 5th, 2016.
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