The Supreme Court ordered the Sindh Board of Revenue (BoR) to get all land records computerised within three months and ordered that parks be built on the retrieved government land.
A three-member bench, led by Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed and comprising Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Qazi Muhammad Amin, was hearing cases pertaining to government land and encroachments at the SC's Karachi Registry.
"The mukhtiarkars have become ministers in Sindh," remarked CJP Ahmed. Government lands are being occupied with the help of BoR members, said the CJP, adding that razing is done for show and walls are rebuilt the next day.
During the hearing, Justice Ahsan questioned the senior BoR member on why land records from 2007 till now have not been computerised. The senior member replied that the entire record, except that of Thatta district, has been compiled.
"You sought two months' time last time in 2018. Why couldn't the records of Thatta be computerised?" asked Justice Ahsan.
The CJP expressed displeasure at the BoR member and asked by when the survey of Karachi would be conducted. The BoR member replied that the survey of Karachi will be completed within six months. "You don't even have the master plan for Karachi. No master plan has been made since 1940," remarked Justice Ahsan.
The bench reprimanded the BoR member over occupied amenity plots and illegal constructions in the city and raised questions on the BoRs performance. On the court's query, the BoR member apprised the court that 133 wedding halls and parks have been vacated.
The bench directed the member to retrieve all government land and computerise the entire land record within three months. According to the BoR's report submitted to the court, over 600 pieces of land were retrieved from 2019-21 and 813 operations were conducted.
Operation at nullahs
Meanwhile, hearing the case pertaining to anti-encroachment operations at Gujjar and Orangi Town nullahs, the bench directed the city authorities to continue demolitions.
Besides, the court sought an alternative plan for the resettlement of the thousands of affected residents. The attorney-general stated that there was a risk of a major human tragedy. Over 40,000 people are being affected by the anti-encroachment operation at the two nullahs.
He pleaded the court to suspend the operation till the next to hearing and said that he was willing to consult with the chief minister and the National Disaster Management Authority's chairperson to form a strategy or an alternative plan. He apprised that some residents didn't accept the cheques for compensation and filed cases against the demolition of their houses, thinking it would keep the authorities from razing down their shelter.
The court remarked, however, that no stay will be issued against judicial orders and the work against encroachments at the nullahs will continue.
The apex court directed the federal and provincial governments to formulate a strategy for the resettlement of the residents within a week.
The same bench directed the relevant authorities to vacate the land of Pakistan Railways (PR) in Gulshan-e-Iqbal, reserved for Gilani Station, in the case pertaining to illegal occupation at Railways Cooperative Housing Societies.
CJP Ahmed remarked that tall buildings and thousands of houses were constructed on the PR's lands, reserved for operational purposes, only to make billions of rupees. The PR secretary admitted that all these were illegal constructions.
"A great station was to be built on PR's land in Gulshan-e-Iqbal then how did all this happen," remarked CJP Ahmed, adding that who is to be held responsible and punished for it.
Meanwhile, the bench declared the Nasla Tower on Sharae Faisal illegal and ordered its immediate demolition.
Justice Ahsan remarked that the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation's (KMC) report pointed out some areas being used illegally. The court observed that not only the service road but also Sharae Faisal has been encroached by the building's premises.
At this, the counsel representing Nasla Tower said that the service road wasn't in the building's premises. "Where is the original plan for Nasla Tower?" asked CJP Ahmed. Justice Ahsan inquired if the land originally leased for Nasla Tower was 780 square yards or not. Look at the photographs, Nasla Tower is attached to the service road, he remarked.
At this, the counsel claimed that the service road was constructed on the land owned by Nasla Tower. He maintained that the KMC handed over the land to Sindhi Muslim Society and the builders bought it from the former.
The court observed that it would be illegal even if the land reserved for a footpath was sold off and directed the tower's demolition.
The bench rejected the shopkeepers' plea and directed the KMC administrator to vacate the shopping centre and club near Aladin Park. Karachi commissioner and other relevant authorities presented the implementation report before the court.
"No commercial activity will be allowed on the land of Aladin Park and the club," remarked the CJP.
The lawyer representing the shopkeepers maintained that the shops were leased. At this, the CJP wondered whether the premises of a park could be leased.
Meanwhile, taking up a case pertaining to water supply in the city, the bench directed the WAPDA chairperson to start work on the K-IV project.
The chairperson maintained that there was risk of water theft and wastage under the old feasibility report and hence a new plan has been prepared to ensure water is not stolen.
Meanwhile, the bench directed the demolition of the Harmain Hotel on the Sessions Court Road and instructed the relevant authorities to vacate all government lands in a case pertaining to illegal occupation of land in Jacobabad.
Adviser to Sindh Chief Minister Aijaz Jhakrani, Aslam Abro and others appeared before the court.
The petitioner said that Mumtaz Jakhrani occupied the veterinary hospital and gave it to a private school. Upon the court's query, Jakhrani informed that he had bought the land of the veterinary hospital and he had the documents to prove his ownership.
"Keep the documents with you as we don't accept the fake ones," remarked CJP Ahmed, adding that everything must be vacated.
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