The Sindh High Court expressed on Monday inability to restrain demolition drives under way along Karachi's nullahs, stating that it could not overrule a Supreme Court (SC) order and the petitioner may approach the apex court on the matter.
A two-member bench, comprising Justice Syed Hasan Azhar Rizvi and Justice Rashida Asad was hearing the plea challenging the demolition of leased houses under the guise of anti-encroachment operations along the city's nullahs.
The bench issued notices to the Sindh advocate general, Karachi Metropolitan Corporation's (KMC's) katchi abadis department and other relevant authorities, directing them to submit their replies on the plea by April 23.
At the hearing, the counsel for the petitioner complained that the KMC had issued a single letter and declared all houses along nullahs encroachments.
"But how can the KMC's katchi abadis department lease a land [on which construction is] illegal?" inquired Justice Rizvi.
Besides, the court observed that the width of most nullahs used to be up to 600 feet before 1970, when encroachments began to appear and illegal construction started, but the current width of most nullahs was not even 200 feet.
Justice Rizvi added that a high court could not go against a SC order.
At that, the counsel for the petitioner maintained that the apex court's order on the matter was being "misrepresented."
"Encroachments can be removed, but how can they [the relevant authorities] raze houses built on leased land?" the counsel contended, referring to the top court's order.
The order has been issued by the SC and it is best that the petitioner approaches the top court for clarification, the court remarked.
When the counsel pointed out that houses built on leased land would be razed by the time they would approach the apex court, the high court bench stated that all relevant information was available online and the SC, too, could be approached immediately.
"The[high] court cannot restrict the anti-encroachment for now," the court stated.
Seeking replies from the relevant authorities, the court then adjourned the hearing till April 23.
Separately, a two-member bench comprising Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar and Justice Arshad Hussain Khan declared a plea pertaining to the awarding of jobs on the basis of fake domiciles and permanent residential certificates (PRCs) admissible in the court.
The plea, filed by Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan leader Khawaja Izharul Hassan, maintained that students in Karachi were not being issued domiciles.
"In 2000, people were being issued fake domiciles, but now, the domiciles are not being issued to eligible citizens," the plea stated. "It is a matter of the future of Karachi's students [and] the citizens of urban Sindh are being deprived of jobs due to fake domiciles."
The plea contended that jobs reserved for the citizens of urban areas in Sindh were being giving to the residents of rural areas, and moved the court to direct the relevant authorities to stop the issuance of fake domiciles.
Besides, Hassan prayed the court to order an inquiry into jobs awarded on the basis of domiciles thus far.
The court declared the plea admissible and fixed May3 for hearing the petition.
Missing person case
Meanwhile, a bench comprising Justice KK Agha and Justice Abdul Mobeen Lakho issued notices to the Sindh Home Department and other relevant authorities, seeking their replies on a plea pertaining to the disappearance of a missing person, Zeeshan.
Zeeshan's family maintained before the court that he had been whisked away by a law enforcement agency from Golimar 22 days ago. The family members said they did not have any information about Zeeshan's whereabouts since then.
The family moved the court to direct the relevant authorities to present Zeeshan in the court.
At that, the court issued notices to the Sindh Home Department, Sindh IGP, deputy attorney general and Sindh advocate general.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 20th, 2021.