RAWALPINDI, July 14: The city district government on Saturday recommended to the Punjab government to construct an underpass to connect the district courts with the new judicial complex adjacent to Jinnah Park and Army House, which is scheduled to be inaugurated by Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry on Monday.

On the request of the lawyers, the Punjab government had directed the city government to conduct a survey and submit a report whether the underpass was feasible in the sensitive area adjacent to the Army House.

Upon this, District Coordination Officer Saqib Zafar held meetings with the National Logistics Cell, garrison authorities, local politicians and Rawalpindi District Bar Association office-bearers and finally recommended that there was a dire need to construct the underpass as an overhead pedestrian bridge would create problem for VVIP movement in the area.

“We sent the proposal to the government to construct the underpass. However, before launching work on the project, the provincial government will have to get a non-objection certificate (NoC) from the garrison authorities as the Army House will be a few yards away from the new complex,” said the DCO while talking to Dawn.

He said there was a dire need to build an overhead pedestrian bridge or an underpass to connect the district courts with the judicial complex.

The city government was interested in building an overhead bridge there but the lawyers wanted an underpass saying senior lawyers and aged litigants would be having difficulty in climbing the overhead bridge.

According to the plan, the 70 courtrooms, including special and anti-terrorism courts, will be shifted to the new judicial complex but the lawyers’ chambers will remain in the old district courts.

“During the routine work, the lawyers and more than 20,000 litigants and government officials will be shuttling between the old district courts and the judicial complex and it will create problem for them to pass the busiest road connecting Jhelum Road to Airport,” said Advocate Sajid Ilyas Bhatti, the president of the district courts bar association, while talking to Dawn.

He said the new complex had 70 courtrooms and modern facilities and constructed under the Access to Justice Programme in 2007.  Due to the judicial crisis and lawyers’ movement, the project remained in slow pace.

He said the total cost of the complex was over Rs500 million. The old district courts would also be used after shifting the courts to new judicial complex.

By Aamir Yasin

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