Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed chided the Pakistan Peoples Party-led Sindh government on Monday as the Supreme Court took up hearings pertaining to encroachments and other cases at the SC's Karachi Registry.
Except the province of Sindh, the whole country is progressing, said the CJP, adding that it appeared as if there was no concept of governance in Sindh.
The people of Tharparkar are left wandering in search of water, while the provincial authorities cannot set up a single reverse osmosis (RO) water filteration plant despite an allocation of Rs15b for RO plants in the budget, said the CJP, admonishing the Sindh advocate-general.
A year ago, your government was asked to clean a drain, and you could not even do that, he censured Sindh government's lawyer.
The CJP remarked that a man named Younus Memon was operating Karachi from Canada. Memon oversees all the biddings for plots from Canada, he said, asserting that it was a misfortune for the people of Pakistan that people control them from London, Dubai or Canada.
Widening of nullahs
Meanwhile, taking up the case pertaining to demolitions of leased properties alongside the Gujjar and Orangi nullahs, the apex court directed the authorities to start the process of widening the nullahs and nullified the stay order restricting the anti-encroachment operation.
A three-member bench, led by CJP Ahmed and comprising Justice Ijazul Hasan and Justice Qazi Muhammad Amin, heard the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation's plea seeking an clarity on the SC's orders pertaining to demolition of leased houses.
The KMC's counsel maintained that the Gujjar Nullah was being widened by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) as per the SC's order. The leased houses within the area marked for widening were to be razed but the anti-encroachment tribunal restricted the demolition of leased houses.
CJP inquired that who leased the land? To which, the advocate general replied that leases were given by different authorities at different times. The counsel representing affected residents, Advocate Faisal Siddiqui pleaded that 6,000 affected residents should be given alternative accommodation.
At this, CJP remarked that this land is not owned by the residents but by the government. How can the residents get relief when they do not own the land. He remarked that the encroachments would have to be removed under any circumstances.
Separately, the three member bench directed the Karachi commissioner to remove all encroachments from Kidney Hill Park and restore it to its original condition.
The CJP asked the Karachi commissioner whether he had directed the removal of all illegal occupants of the park.
“Let’s frame a charge sheet against the commissioner and send him to jail if he can’t implement judicial orders,” remarked CJP Ahmed.
The Karachi commissioner maintained that only a mosque and a shrine were left in Kidney Hill Park.
At this, the CJP asked who had issued the lease for the shrine and the mosque on the park’s land. At this, the secretary of Al-Fatah Mosque maintained that it was an ancient mosque. However, CJP remarked that there has never been a mosque or a shrine in Kidney Hill Park moreover, if Masjid-e-Nabawi cannot be extended on illegal land, no other mosque can be.
Similarly, hearing the case pertaining to the construction of Nasla Tower on Sharae Faisal, Justice Hassan asked how people could construct a building on a service road.
The counsel for the builder said that the size of the road was reduced at the time of the construction of a bridge. The CJP observed that the service road has been encroached on either sides of the thoroughfare.
Meanwhile, hearing the case pertaining to the establishment of encroachment and KDA officers club on Kashmir Road the court inquired whether all the encroachments were removed from Kashmir Road.
The CJP directed KDA officials to take as many machines as they want and raze all the illegal structures and encroachments from there.
Any obstruction in the process would be considered contempt of the judicial orders, remarked the court.
The court directed the authorities to demolish KDA club, squash court, swimming pool and all other illegal structures and restore the park at Royal Park Land at Kashmir Road for children to play and adjourned the hearing till Wednesday.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 15h, 2021.