KARACHI: The Sindh High Court questioned the maintainability of a petition filed by the Defence Officers Housing Scheme management to seek the closure of a Hindu temple being run on residential premises, allegedly in violation of the bye-laws.
Restraining themselves from passing any order, the two-judge bench, headed by Justice Irfan Saadat Khan, directed the petitioner’s lawyer to argue on the maintainability of the plea by the next date of hearing.
The president of the housing scheme, Lieutenant Colonel (Retd) Mukhtar Ahmed Butt, had gone to court against the Cantonment Board Clifton (CBC) chief executive officer, the Military Estates Officer Karachi Circle, the director-general of the Military Lands and Cantonments, the defence ministry and the owner of the house where the temple is being run on the school road.
The petitioner submitted that the house was bought by a non-Muslim in 2011 and was then converted into a temple. “This is a scheme that is strictly for residential purposes,” he explained.
The owner of the said house has, however, illegally and in violation of the CBC’s bye-laws has converted the house into a Hindu temple, inviting community members from all over the province to perform prayers seven to eight times a month, he further said. “This causes traffic jams on both sides of the road,” he added.
The president said that the residents of the housing scheme had been making complaints to the authorities but nothing has been done. It was stated in the plea that the owner of the house has also made structural changes to the building without seeking prior permission from the cantonment board but the respondent authorities are not performing their duties.
The court was pleaded to direct the owner of the house in question to not use the premises for any other purpose other than residence. It was also urged to grant a stay order, restraining the respondent from using the house for religious activities.
The bench members were, however, not persuaded by the initial arguments made by the petitioner. Therefore, they directed him to argue on the maintainability of the plea on the next date of hearing.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 12th, 2014.