KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) ordered on Monday that status quo should be maintained in respect of notices issued by the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) ordering dozens of citizens to vacate houses that have allegedly been built on amenity plots in Gulistan-e-Jauhar.
A division bench, comprising justices Hasan Azhar Rizvi and Faisal Kamal Alam, also issued notices to the KMC administrator, its anti-encroachment department head, the local government department secretary and others to file their comments by November 16.
These directives came on a petition jointly filed by the residents of Scheme-36 in Gulistan-e-Jauhar, who went to court against the local administration for issuing them eviction notices.
The petitioners said the local government had allotted them residential plots, measuring 80 square yards each, in 2011. They maintained that all the legal formalities had been completed. The court was informed that the petitioners were issued allotment letters after they had duly paid the amount through bank challans.
Advocate Haider Imam Rizvi argued that none of the authorities had objected to the allotment ever since. "But, after the petitioners built their homes with their hard-earned money, the director of the estate and enforcement wing of the Karachi Development Authority served notices on October 12, directing them to vacate the land in question within three days," Rizvi said.
According to the notices, these houses have been built illegally on two amenity plots, ST-41 and ST-42, which were unlawfully carved out through 'china-cutting.'
But, the lawyer stated that the notices are based on litigation initiated by the Nomania Community Welfare Group, which claimed that the land was originally earmarked for a park and playground. The group had pleaded the court to order the KMC authorities to demolish the illegally-built houses and retrieve the land for amenity purposes.
Rizvi argued that the KDA notices are based on misinterpretation of the court's orders passed on the welfare group's petition on September 12 this year, when Jamil Ahmed Baloch, director of KDA's estate and enforcement wing, undertook that he had corresponded with all relevant departments and would remove the encroachments after the Eid holidays.
He alleged that the notices are based on mala fide intentions, as they were issued after the petitioners spent huge amounts of money to build their houses.
He pleaded the court to declare the anti-encroachment department's notices unlawful as they are based on mala fide intentions. It was also requested to the court to order the KMC authorities let the petitioners live in peace.
The two-judges issued notices to the KMC administrator, the anti-encroachment department director, the LG secretary and others for November 16 to file their comments. Meanwhile, they ordered the parties to maintain status quo till the next date of hearing.
The judges also summoned the director of the KDA's estate and enforcement wing on the next date with the master plan and relevant documents pertaining to the subject plots in addition to filing a comprehensive report.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 3rd, 2015.