The Supreme Court rejected on Tuesday a plea challenging the demolition of encroachments on Pakistan Railways' (PR) land.
A three-member bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed, and comprising Justice Aijazul Hassan and Justice Qazi Muhammad Amin Ahmed was hearing the plea on Tuesday. The petitioner's counsel said an anti-encroachment operation was being conducted on PR land adjacent to Frere Hall. He claimed houses with a legal standing were also being demolished in the process.
Speaking of his own case, the counsel contended that the land had been in the possession of his client for years. "An illegal occupation remains illegal even if it lasts a century," CJP Ahmed remarked to this argument. He directed the petitioner to file a separate case against the PR if he suffered any loses.
The decision coincides with the same-day release of the written verdict in which the SC stated that not an inch of PR land would be sold.
In the verdict revealed at the Karachi Registry, the SC said it had been informed that the federal government was evolving a mechanism to sell PR land in Sindh. It pointed out that a meeting, to this effect, was held at the Governor House.
The court ordered that railways land could not be leased, transferred or allotted. It clarified that the land would only but be used for the railways' operational purposes.
The SC expressed its annoyance at the railways minister for giving an irresponsible statement on the recent Ghotki train accident. The apex court dubbed PR's performance as unprofessional and unsafe for passengers.
The federal government was directed to terminate all incompetent officials and employees. The SC ordered the PR to provide safe and dignified travel for people. The apex court also ordered the immediate refurbishment of tracks from Khanpur to Ghotki and from Sukkur to Karachi.
It sought a report on PR's infrastructure and collective performance from the attorney general of Pakistan. The verdict was announced by a three-member bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Justice Gulzar Ahmed.
Separately, the apex court sought a reply from the Sindh government over a plea challenging the regularisation of grade 16 and above government employees without a Public Service Commission. The petitioner maintained that the Sindh High Court had declared this manner of regularisation illegal. The court sought a reply from the government on the matter by June 16.
Rangers DSR reinstatement revoked
Moreover, the SC suspended the decision of the service tribunal to reinstate a Rangers deputy superintendent (DSR) who was accused of extorting a liquor store owner in Lyari.
The additional attorney general told the court that a committee was formed to investigate the allegations against former DSR Basharat Ali. He was terminated from his post in the light of the committee's findings. However, a service tribunal later ordered to Ali to be reinstated, he added. The court issued a notice on the plea and nullified the service tribunal's verdict. Ali extorted Rs60,000 from the store owner and later confessed to the same in a statement.
A Supreme Court written verdict observed that neither cantonment boards nor the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board seemed capable of supplying water to residents of Defence Housing Authority and the rest of the city.
The apex court frowned upon the business of supplying water to locals through tankers in return for huge sums of money. It said the water on which these authorities are making money is supplied through KWSB lines. It stated Karachi faces a shortage of 1200 MGDs of water, as per the KWSB managing director's claims, while the K-IV project would only be able to compensate for 650 MGD of that shortfall.
Since the K-IV project had been taken over by the Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA), the SC summoned the authority's chairperson and K-IV project director for Wednesday (today) to inform the bench about the project's status.
Stay orders anulled
The SC, in its written verdict, stated that interim stay orders, issued by the Anti-Encroachment Tribunal and Sindh High Court, against anti-encroachment drives on the Orangi and Gullar nullahs, are being disposed.
The National Disaster Management Authority, Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) administrator and Sindh government were directed to complete the anti-encroachment operations and extend the nullahs. It also ordered the compensation and rehabilitation of affected residents.
Freeing up land
The SC also directed the Karachi commissioner and authorities concerned to vacate the land of Kidney Hill Park and the plot near UBL Sports Complex by razing all illegal structures and encroachments by June 16.
A coercive order will be issued by the apex court in case the administrator fails to comply with the judicial orders, read the verdict.
Demolition around waterpark
Separately, the apex court ordered the KMC administrator and Karachi commissioner to submit photographs, attached with a report, to show that the Aladdin Water Park has been restored to its original condition.
The order read all debris must be removed by June 16 after razing the club and shopping centre structures. The court announced this decision when hearing the case against encroachments and illegal structures near Aladdin Amusement Park.
It stated the park was converted into a club and a shopping centre was established inside premises for commercial activities. The court clarified this was not the purpose for which the facility was constructed.
According to the verdict, the police department and the paramilitary force would provide assistance to authorities for the demolition operation.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 16h, 2021.