Court directs commissioner for convening all-party meeting on bus terminal matter

Notices were issued to other officials, board of revenue senior member to appear before court

Our Correspondent March 13, 2019
Notices were issued to other officials, board of revenue senior member to appear before court. PHOTO: FILE

KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) issued notices on Tuesday to the Karachi Port Trust (KPT), Pakistan Railways, Defence Housing Authority (DHA), cantonment boards and agencies in a petition seeking to ban the entry of heavy vehicles in the city and also directed the senior member of Sindh Board of Revenue to appear at the next hearing.

A two-member bench, comprising Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar and Justice Agha Faisal, was hearing the case in which Karachi Mayor Wasim Akhtar and several others appeared before the court.

Chairman of the transport association informed that the court had ordered a joint meeting of the parties, which could not happen. The Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) has acquired 500 acres of land for the bus terminal. The transporters' representative said that neither bus stops were shifted outside the city despite the court orders nor were the transporters called for a meeting.

Tuck shops at Islamabad bus terminals overcharging

Officials from the transport department said that they were called to all the meetings, which were also advertised in the newspaper.

The court inquired about the land secretary, asking for the reason of his absence. The additional advocate-general maintained that the Land Secretary Aftab Memon had been arrested two days ago.

The court said that the parties should be called to resolve the issue. Justice Mazhar remarked, "Listen carefully, you have to do the task. It is being done for the betterment of the city."

Karachi mayor said that formulating a committee was important to ensure an uninterrupted monitoring system.

The court, responding to his suggestion, ordered the formulation of a monitoring committee to implement the action plan. The Karachi mayor and chiefs of relevant authorities be included in the committee, which would be headed by the chief secretary.

The court directed the Karachi commissioner to call a joint meeting of the parties on March 19 and ordered the senior members of transport department to present a report pertaining to the land for bus terminal. The hearing was adjourned till April 9.

May 12 incident

Another bench of the high court rejected the plea  to cancel the bail granted to Wasim Akhtar in the May 12 cases.

A two-member bench, comprising Justice Aftab Gorar and Justice Amjad Ali Sahoto, was hearing the petition filed by Iqbal Kazmi against Akhtar's bail in the May 12 cases. The petitioner maintained that Akhtar, despite being an accused, still holds public office. He said that there are 44 lawyers as witnesses in the case filed in the city court. Despite the witnesses, Akhtar's case had been termed A class.

The court inquired from the petitioner how he was the affected respondent in the case. Kazmi said that the Supreme Court had declared that if the accused of the May 12 case were punished then such incidents would  not happen again. It was a matter of public importance.

Kazmi's arguments failed to convince the court and his plea was rejected.

KKF money laundering

The same bench ordered the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and Khidmat-e-Khalq Foundation (KKF) on Tuesday to submit replies at the next hearing in response to the allegations of money laundering case done in the name of Muttahida Qaumi Movement's (MQM) welfare institution.

Baqar Mehdi, the counsel of former senator Ahmed Ali, maintained that FIA had frozen his bank account and was not cooperating or even submitting a response. The FIA froze the bank account without any court orders. "Though KKF's amount is present in the account, it has not been used illegally," he said.

According to the petition, Ahmed Ali was regularly facing the trial while Arshad Vohra, and several other accused named in the case remained at large. The FIA has not been taking action against several MQM leaders involved in money laundering. The petitioner requested that orders be issued to FIA to unfreeze the bank account.

The court expressed displeasure with FIA and KKF and directed them to submit replies by next hearing.

Illegal land allotment

The SHC dismissed former secretary Aftab Memon's bail plea on Tuesday pertaining to the illegal allotment and occupation of 1,600 acres land in Korangi and Malir. A two-member bench, headed by Chief Justice (CJ) Ahmed Ali Sheikh and Justice Omar Sial, was hearing the case.

The accused's counsel said that the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had arrested Memon in the fake bank account case. A production order to present him before the court should be issued.

The CJ asked that why the court should issue the production order? If a serious offence has been committed, NAB and the accused should deal with it themselves.