Supreme Court stays demolition of Sea Breeze Plaza

Published: July 19, 2019
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A view of the Supreme Court of Pakistan in Islamabad. PHOTO: REUTERS

A view of the Supreme Court of Pakistan in Islamabad. PHOTO: REUTERS

PHOTOS: EXPRESS A view of the Supreme Court of Pakistan in Islamabad. PHOTO: REUTERS

KARACHI: The Supreme Court (SC) issued notices to the military land director, Karachi Cantonment Board, Attorney-General, Sindh Building Control Authority director, Sindh advocate-general and others, while issuing the interim stay order regarding the demolition of the Sea Breeze Plaza building.

A two-member bench, comprising Justice Gulzar Ahmed and Justice Sajjad Ali Shah was hearing the review plea regarding the demolition of Sea Breeze Plaza located on MA Jinnah Road, at the SC’s Karachi Registry.

The petitioner’s counsel argued that none of the reports stated that the building had become weak. NESPAK has inspected that building therefore we should wait till it issues the report, the counsel argued, adding that there were shops and warehouses in the building and its demolition would affect 200 people.

Justice Ahmed remarked that a medical centre had to be set up in the building according to the lease. The petitioner’s counsel maintained that they were willing to give the place to Shaukat Khanum Hospital or the Edhi Foundation.

The court remarked that the counsel didn’t have any idea about how the affairs were running in Karachi. Here, the affairs are different from other cities, it added.

The court restricted the administration from demolishing the building until further orders.

The court also issued notices to the military land director and other officials to submit their comments within two weeks. It also sought the report by NESPAK and adjourned the hearing.

Land ownership

In a separate case, the same bench summoned Katchi Abadis Land Director and Karachi Metropolitan Commissioner on Monday over the matter of ownership of land in Kornagi.

The court was hearing a plea pertaining to the ownership claims by the residents and the KMC over public land in Korangi. The court remarked that it should be mentioned whom the quarters present in Korangi no. 3½ belonged to. The residents said that they had been living on the land for the last 45 years, but the KMC was now forcing them to leave. The challan and lease process was started in 1997.

The KMC’s counsel argued that the land was reserved for quarters of KMC officials. Justice Ahmed questioned what if the department of Katchi abadis termed the area of Saddar as a kachi abadi?

“When a property is bought, investigation about it is also done. Would the land on which Supreme Court is constructed belong to anyone if it is leased to them?” Justice Ahmed questioned, adding that the same was the case with Pakistan Quarters and Jamshed Quarters. If the land belongs to the KMC, how were challans issued by the Katchi abadis department, questioned Justice Ahmed. To this, the KMC’s counsel said that a resolution was presented for the land to be declared a katchi abadi, but it couldn’t be passed.

S-III project director

In another case, the SC concluded the plea filed against the removal of the project director of S-III project after the petitioner withdrew the plea.

The same bench heard the case in which the counsel for Imtiaz Magsi argued that his client was removed on the orders of the water commission.

The Karachi Water and Sewerage Board’s counsel maintained, however, that Magsi was removed on the orders of the chief secretary, not the water commission. The project cost had jumped to Rs36 billion from its initial estimate of Rs6.5 billion during Magsi’s tenure, he added.

Justice Ahmed remarked that this was clearly a case for the National Accountability Bureau. The court ordered the NAB to investigate the case.

Magsi’s counsel argued that his client was removed from the project without any show-cause notice. The court remarked that he should ask his client about the reason. It will only add to your difficulty if the court gave the observation, the court remarked.

Fish Harbour Authority’s plea

The Supreme Court (SC) rejected the plea filed by the Fish Harbour Authority against the high court’s decision, ordering it to pay gratuity to a former employee.

The same bench was hearing the Fish Harbour Authority’s plea at the SC’s Karachi registry. The petitioner, Imtiaz Jaffery’s counsel argued that gratuity was denied after retirement, while the counsel for FHA argued that Jaffery was a contractual employee at the fish harbour.

Justice Ahmed questioned what wasn’t being done in the fish harbour. People have eaten up billions of rupees, he added. The court rejected the plea, upholding the SHC’s decision to give the gratuity money owed to the petitioner.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 19th, 2019.

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