Stay on Rawal lake boating club extended

IHC says rule of law more important than individual

Our Correspondent September 10, 2020
Islamabad High Court. PHOTO: IHC WEBSITE


The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Wednesday extended a ban on new constructions at a sailing club built on the banks of Rawal Dam as it asked the Navy to define its constitutional role.

This was directed by a single-member bench of the IHC, comprising Chief Justice Athar Minallah, as it heard a case against the Naval club and farms.

During Wednesday’s hearing, petitioner Babar Sattar pointed out a violation of court orders about restrictions on fresh constructions at the club.

IHC’s chief justice stated that a violation of orders will not be tolerated. Pointing towards the Navy’s counsel Ashtar Ausaf, the court remarked that his client was exposing itself.

CJ Minallah further asked who owned the particular piece of land what was the procedure for allotting it.

“Can the high court construct a club by leaving its work?”, it asked, adding, “Can the IHC say that they want to build a club to promote sporting activities?”.

The court inquired whether it should ask the Chief of Naval Staff to explain the constitutional role of the force, adding that per the constitution, the force came under the ministry of defence.

Minallah stated that anyone in the uniform defending the country was highly respectable but the rule of law was far more significant than any individual. The court further asked the Navy’s counsel if the submitted answer was prepared in line with the directions of the Naval chief.

Ausaf replied that they have filed the answer as per the directions of the Naval chief. At this, the court advised the counsel to read the reply again. The court stated that the country has suffered a lot due to the absence of rule of law. Everyone is subservient to the Constitution, CJ Minallah stated.

To the question of whether the Navy is authorised to carry out the construction of a sailing club, Ausaf replied that the force has a sports fund. At this, the court stated that the navy fund was thus funded with public money.

The counsel for the Capital Development Authority (CDA) told the court that the land belongs to the civic authority. He further clarified that it belonged to the Punjab government until the establishment of the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT).

Later, the area had been declared a national park, he said.

We will not allow any construction on the national park’s land as the Supreme Court (SC) had already given a ruling on the matter, CJ Minallah said.

The court then adjourned further proceedings in the case until September 12.

The IHC on July 23 had ordered to seal off the club built by the Navy on the banks of Rawal dam. CDA Member Planning had conceded before the court that prior approval was not sought from the authority to build the club nor was the land ever allotted.


Published in The Express Tribune, September 10th, 2020.


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