PHC gives 7 days to demolish encroachments in graveyards

Court directs district government to take action within 30 days if encroachers fail to act upon orders.


Umer Farooq April 03, 2012

PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court (PHC) on Tuesday set a seven-day deadline to demolish illegal constructions at graveyards. The court directed the district government to take action within 30 days if encroachers fail to act upon the court’s orders.

A divisional bench headed by PHC Chief Justice Dost Muhammad Khan and comprising Justice Muftahuddin was hearing the case.

DCO Siraj Ahmad Khan told the bench that according to a survey conducted, approximately 9.75 acres, out of almost 11 acres of land donated by the Auqaf Department, has been encroached upon in the provincial capital.

He said some of the land has also been illegally occupied by government schools, basic health units and tube wells.

“We are chasing the public over encroachments, while the government itself has illegally occupied land,” Justice Khan said. “How will government authorities stop the public when they have encroached upon graveyards themselves?”

Siraj also informed the court that the finance department had been asked to issue Rs20 million to retrieve encroached land.

“Do not take anything into consideration. Demolish each and every encroachment, whether it is by the government or public,” the chief justice remarked.

One of the Town-IV officials informed the court that they have faced immense problems in this regard.

“Launch a [anti-encroachment] drive throughout the province. Anyone who does not remove encroachments should be booked under section-3 of the Maintenance of Public Order and all the material recovered from the demolished building should be used in constructing boundary walls and gates for the graveyards,” Justice Khan said.

He said the income derived from illegal constructions shall also be considered as arrears of the land. “Whether encroached graveyards belong to Muslim or non-Muslim communities, illegal constructions are an inexcusable crime. It’s neither Islamic, nor does the law permit it,” he said.

Justice Khan also instructed the director-general of the Peshawar Development Authority to provide machinery to demolish illegal constructions and also ordered the capital city police officer to provide manpower for the anti-encroachment drive to be conducted smoothly.

Meanwhile, Justice Khan asked the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government to amend relevant provisions of the Pakistan Penal Code through the provincial assembly and, if required, get an approval from the federal government to make such acts punishable.

The chief justice directed all civil judges not to interfere in the matter and said those having any claims against encroachments should approach the high court.

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