KARACHI: Police and Sindh High Court (SHC) staff opened the gates of Aisha Bawany College on Thursday in order to ensure commencement of educational activities from today.
Some 2,500 students had been barred from attending classes when the college building was sealed on September 16 on the orders of a civil court the trustees of the Aisha Bawany Trust, however, did not allow classes to resume, despite the SHC restraining the civil court from proceeding with the matter regarding possession of the building.
“The building has been opened in the compliance with the order passed today by the SHC,” Saddar SHO Pir Shabbir told The Express Tribune. He maintained that earlier the building was closed on the civil court’s orders and it has been reopened on the court’s orders as well.
Earlier in the day, a two-judge SHC bench had appointed its nazir to proceed immediately to the building and show a copy of the order to the persons, if any, who claim to hold possession of the college on behalf of the Aisha Bawany Trust.
It had also directed the Saddar SHO to immediately constitute a police party to accompany the nazir, while the SSP concerned was directed to be present at the building in person or through a senior police officer.
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“The crux of this order is that under all circumstances classes and the college must resume by [today],” the judges ordered, adding “if necessary, the nazir has full authority to break open any lock and to take all such steps as he may deem appropriate to ensure full compliance of the order.”
The court also authorised the police to take any action, including registration of an FIR, against anyone who might attempt to create a law and order situation, desist, interfere, obstruct or delay implementation of the order.
The bench passed these directives on two petitions filed by students, parents and the principal of the college, who moved the court against the trustees for not letting them open the premises and resume classes.
Barrister Salahuddin Ahmed said the college, known as Aisha Bawany College-II, along with four other educational institutions, were being run at the well-known Aisha Bawany Academy located on main Sharae Faisal. The college occupies a certain portion of the building, he added.
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He said the educational institutions were originally setup and run by a private trust, adding that the same were taken over by the government during nationalisation in 1972.
He informed the court that after the passage of several years, four of these institutions were handed back to the Aisha Bawany Trust, but the college continued to remain under the control of the provincial government and was being run accordingly.
Barrister Ahmed informed the judges that there is no dispute regarding the four other educational institutions, but so far as the Aisha Bawany College is concerned, it appears that sometime in 2005 the trust filed a suit in a civil court in which the provincial government and local government (then designated as the city district government Karachi) were named defendants.
In the suit, the trust had sought possession of the first floor of two wings and ground floor of the eastern wing of the building, known as the boys section, which consists of 17 rooms, in addition to the physics, chemistry, biology and computer laboratories along with computers, equipment and articles used in the laboratories, library with books, staff room, principal’s office, canteen, office of the superintendent, fittings and fixtures after dispossessing the defendants.
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The court was informed that the portion of the building identified in the suit constitutes the space where the college is being run. Eventually the suit was decided by the civil court in a judgment dated October 5, 2009 in favour of the Aisha Bawany Trust.
He said the government had approached the Supreme Court for leave to appeal and the matter is now pending in the court, he added. In the meanwhile, it approached a single bench, headed by Justice Fahim Ahmed Siddiqui, who had stayed the pending execution proceedings and the next date was fixed on September 23.
Meanwhile, the executing court issued relevant writs on September 13 and, in compliance with these writs, the Sindh government, which was running the college, had been dispossessed from the building.
Barrister Ahmed informed the judges that as an immediate consequence of this, the entire college and its students had been subject to upheaval and classes had been abruptly discontinued. “This has had, and continues to have, a huge adverse effect on the students who number around 2,500, disturbing and disrupting their education completely,” he claimed.
He argued that the petition was essentially in a representative capacity with the petitioners appearing for all the 2,500 students, who were now being deprived of education with serious consequences in regard to their future prospects and examinations. “In the peculiar circumstances of this case it is the students and not the trust that will be adversely affected and suffer irreparable loss and injury,” Barrister Ahmed argued.
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He said that in relation to the non-compliance of the stay order passed by the single-judge bench, a contempt application had also been filed. However, he pleaded that immediate relief was essential since it was stated that each day of education that is lost poses a huge burden on the students.
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