The Capital Development Authority (CDA) thinks that the under-construction chambers in F-8 are illegal, but is a little scared to act.
According to a report prepared by the civic agency, chambers constructed by lawyers at the football ground next to district courts are against CDA bylaws however, it has been learnt that the authority is reluctant to submit the report. “CDA is facing pressure from the legal fraternity over the issue,” said an official.
In the first week of February, the District Bar Association president had filed an application before the civil court requesting permission for lawyers to construct permanent chambers on a football ground till the establishment of a complex in G-10. In response to the application, the court issued a notice to CDA and sought their reply on March 16 (today). However on at least two occasions, the notices were not actually served to the CDA due to pressure from the lawyers, it was learnt.
On February 13, a battle erupted between lawyers and traders over the illegal construction of chambers, resulting in the lodging of separate First Information Reports (FIR) against each other by the two groups. Meanwhile, lawyers approached the court to get legal cover to build on the public park-football ground.
Sources told The Express Tribune that CDA Counsel Misbah Sharif is hesitating over submitting the report because other lawyers will make life difficult for her. Sources close to the development said Sharif has asked CDA Enforcement Director Naveedul Haq to avoid taking a stern stance on this report as she does not want to face the wrath of the local legal fraternity. Sharif agreed to appear in court today, but will not be taking a strong position on the issue, an official said, on anonymity.
According to the CDA report, neither the District Bar Association president nor any other lawyers have the authority to unilaterally mark public land for any purpose.
The report further said that the public ground has been developed for city residents and it is the responsibility of the authority to provide such facilities. The report pins lawyers for illegally building on the ground.
A CDA official requesting anonymity said the lawyers’ move is completely illegal and that the CDA would never allow construction of chambers on a sports facility. He explained that the judgements of the apex court and high courts on encroachments are very clear, and cited a recent order from an Islamabad High Court justice who directed the CDA to remove all encroachments from the city.
“The CDA will not let lawyers get off-the-hook for this move. They are not sacred cows,” he added.
Islamabad District Bar Association President Dr Anwar Shah admitted that construction kicked off last month but denied any knowledge of influence being used to suppress the report. “There is no as such development in my knowledge where lawyers have pressurised the CDA counsel,” he claimed.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 16th, 2013.
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