The Islamabad High Court on Friday ordered to remove encroachments carried out by various government entities, including Pakistan Air Force and Pakistan Navy in the Margalla Hills National Park.
Hearing a petition filed by academician Prof Zahid Baig Mirza regarding encroachments in Margalla Hills National Park, IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah observed that the protected area had been encroached upon by the elite, the Islamabad Wildlife Management Board (IWMB) and the Capital Development Authority (CDA) have turned a blind eye to what is happening there.
The IHC chief justice also sought an implementation report from the secretary Climate Change Ministry and director-general Environmental Protection Agency at the next hearing.
Wildlife Management Board lawyer Daniel Hassan submitted a report related to the removal of encroachments on the court order. During the hearing of the cases, IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah remarked no one was above the law. “If the court even violates the law, action should be taken. Selective removal of encroachments was not fair. Should half be spared and half punished? The elite has carried out this encroachment, destroying the rights of future generations with regard to the environment.
The judge said that don’t tell the court yes or no but follow the law and go after all encroachments. Treat the weak and the powerful alike. You have the power to enforce it. The law exists there, but no one enforces it. The IHC chief justice said that the prime minister was playing a very effective role in protecting the environment and civic agencies must execute their duty.
Lawyer Daniel Hassan told the court that operations had been carried out against encroachments in 80 places.
The IHC chief justice said that heads of the institutions that made encroachment should have been punished in order to save the environment. The judge observed that Z B Mirza’s research and books on Margalla Hills must be taught to the next generation that what treasure existed.
The IHC chief justice asked ZB Mirza to write a letter to the prime minister so that he could start work on it. The court said that the CDA demolished encroachments of the common man without notice but turns a blind eye to the encroachments of the elite.
The court expressed frustration with the CDA for failing to serve notices on the institutions to remove the encroachments. The judge remarked that if nothing could be done, do away with all these laws. This court has told the CDA many times that no one was above the law.
When the CDA lawyer said that the written order of the case should also be sent to the secretary, Ministry of Defence, the court asked him if he wanted the court to issue notices to all forces’ chiefs. The chief justice said that do you suggest we should order the registration of criminal cases.
The court seeking replies adjourned the hearing till October 12.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 4th, 2021.
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