The Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered the Abbottabad district administration to vacate a girls’ school from illegal occupation of the police.
The district police officer Abbottabad has been directed to appear before the court in person on Thursday (today). A three-member bench comprising Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Justice Khilji Arif Hussain and Justice Tariq Parvez observed that the girls have been forced to travel greater distances for an education since the police occupied their school.
“The action of the petitioner prima facie seems to be against the law and norms of justice,” stated the order. “The police, being a law enforcement agency, should enforce the law and not violate it by occupying a building constructed for a girls’ middle school.”
The Abbottabad police had earlier challenged the Peshawar High Court’s decision to vacate the school building in the apex court.
Commissioner and district coordination officer Abbottabad were directed to work out the rent for the premises for the period during which the building remained in unauthorised possession of the police.
It has been observed that law enforcement agencies often occupy premises of educational institutions, land and even houses.
A girls’ hostel of the Rawalpindi Medical College has been illegally occupied by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for the past many years.
Despite the prime minister’s intervention and the apex court’s observation, it has not been vacated. Recently, the apex court has recovered a vast area for an agricultural research centre from the possession of Rangers in Rahim Yar Khan.
When contacted, a senior official of the Abbottabad police said they have complied with the directives of the court and vacated the building. The official stated that the building was constructed in 1986 and remained vacant till 2004. “Not even a single student or teacher was seen at the school during this period.”
In 2006, the police started using the building as a check post, keeping in view the rising number of kidnapping incidents in the area. According to the official, the building was only mentioned as a school in the education department’s record.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 9th, 2012.