SC slaps complete ban on unlicensed mining in K-P

Directs mining department to decide all the licence related applications within 15 days

Shahzad Anwar January 05, 2018

ISLAMABAD: The apex court has slapped a complete ban on unlicensed mining in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) and it directed the mining department to decide all the licence related applications within 15 days.

The Supreme Court’s three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar and comprising Justice Faisal Arab and Justice Ejaz ul Ahsan, on Thursday took up the suo motu case against stone crushing and trees chopping on Margalla Hills.

The K-P chief secretary and secretary mining appeared before the court, which after hearing the respondents, slapped a complete ban on unlicensed mining.

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“Stay order from any court will not create any hindrance for the K-P mining department,” the bench noted. It also directed the K-P chief secretary to monitor mining process, adding that responsibility for compliance of the court’s orders rested with him.

The court adjourned hearing of the K-P mining suo motu case till January 24, 2017.

In another suo motu case regarding cutting of trees on Margalla Hills, the SC summoned State Minister for Capital Administration Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry over failure of the Capital Development Authority (CDA) to develop rules and regulations.

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“Why the CDA has not been able to enact rules since 1960?  The court will hear the case not for sarcasm but for providing benefit. We are not fond of judicial activism in anyway,” the CJP remarked.

He said the court will take action on negligence of duty at every cost. “We are aware of our powers and we will not go beyond them,” he added.

The advocate general (AG) told the court that there was a conflict between Punjab and Islamabad over boundaries of the capital. The CJP said on a lighter vein that “Punjab and Islamabad [governments] are brothers and both the brothers should sit and sort out the matter”.

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“If officers don’t ignore then state land cannot be occupied illegally. I had said in 1997 there is need to rectify Pakistani laws,” he said, adding that court’s orders must not be sent into cold storage. “We will take up the matter to its logical end,” the CJP remarked.

He directed counsel for complainant to submit details of illegal construction in Bani Gala for helping the court. The court adjourned the hearing of the case till next Monday.

Hearing the suo motu case about trees cutting on Murree Hills and subsequent establishment of illegal housing societies, the court expressed dissatisfaction over the report submitted by the Punjab government and rejected it for being unsatisfactory. It also directed Advocate General Punjab to present the complete land record of revenue department and maps of land on next hearing.

The court said despite its clear direction the complete land record was not presented before the court nor it was told that what was the nature of that land. “Where is the working plan prepared in 1970s,” justice Ejaz Afazal asked.

He said in mountainous area anybody who finds vacant space starts construction. The advocate general told the court that no construction was carried out at common land (Shamlat).

He said one private housing society ‘Commoners Sky Garden’ had encroached over 30 kanal of land which had been freed. Counsel for the society, Aitzaz Ahsan, said the society was ready to return 60 kanals against 30 kanals.

The advocate general said in law there was no provision to swap the common land. Justice Afzal, however, said the court wanted to see the complete land record. The SC later adjourned the hearing till January 24.

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