KARACHI: The Sindh High Court imposed a fine of Rs20,000 on the members of the Sindh culture department’s advisory committee on Thursday, for defying the court’s directions to file reports regarding declaration of Hotel Metropole’s building as a protected heritage site.
Justice Ghulam Sarwar Korai, who headed the bench, ordered that the amount of fine would be recovered from the concerned officers’ salaries and paid to the petitioner.
The petitioner, Karachi Property Investment Company (Pvt) Ltd, said it had acquired ownership of the land and building belonging to Hotel Metropole in 1967. Today, many commercial offices have been rented out to different parties.
The judges were told that the culture department through a notification declared 1,061 buildings, including the Hotel Metropole’s building, as protected heritage site. “The entire architecture of the building has been demolished or renovated. In 2006, major structure was also demolished by the (then) Karachi Building Control Authority,” the petitioner recalled.
The petitioner claimed that the building had no more archaeological value, thus it should not be declared as a protected heritage site as it would cause loses to the petitioner.
On April 30, the then secretary of the culture and heritage department had informed the court that an advisory Committee on Heritage was examining the matter closely and would prepare a detailed and comprehensive report on preserving the hotel as a heritage property.
The secretary had requested for one month’s time but the officials later kept on seeking extensions.
On May 30, the judges had given last chance to the culture department for filing a detailed and comprehensive report on its decision of declaring the hotel building as protected heritage site. They also warned of initiating contempt proceedings against the committee’s members found responsible for causing delays in filing of report.
The same thing, however, happened on Thursday when the judges took up the matter to see the report.
Liaquat Ali Baloch, culture department’s law officer, once again made a request for more time to submit report in compliance of the court’s order passed on May 30.
Granting time to the department, the irate bench asked its officials to pay Rs20,000 to the petitioner. They ordered that such amount should be recovered from salaries of the officers/members of the advisory committee.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 27th, 2013.