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KARACHI: The fate of thousands of students hangs in the balance as a sessions court on Tuesday dismissed an appeal of the Sindh education department against the order of a rent controller pertaining to ejectment of the Islamia College building complex.

The Sindh education and literacy department and the management of the colleges had challenged the order of a senior civil judge/rent controller on a rent suit for ejection of the Islamia College building complex, which houses Islamia Arts, Science, Commerce and Law Colleges and around five schools.

On Nov 29, the sessions court issued an interim restraining order against the ejectment and issued notices to the official assignee for arguments.

After hearing arguments from the lawyers for appellants and official assignee, Additional District and Sessions Judge (East) Kamran Atta Soomro dismissed the appeal as non-maintainable and restored the order of the rent controller.

Activists appeal to president against eviction

The rent controller’s ruling/decree came last month on the rent suit filed by the Islamic Education Trust, which owns all buildings and land comprising the Islamia College campus, for recovery of rent and seeking an ejectment order of the premises.

The appellants had filed their plea and their counsel submitted that the rent controller passed the order for ejection of the appellants from the premises concerned.

He submitted that nine educational institutions were being run in the same building and the future of thousands of students was at stake.

He pleaded for a restraining order to bar the rent controller from issuing the writ of possession and to maintain status quo.

The lawyer further submitted that the first rent appeal (FRA) was filed on the dicta laid down by the Supreme Court through a judgement reported in PLD 1969.

However, the sessions judge said that as per the rent controller’s order the appellants were not a party in the rent case filed in 2004 and the rent execution. The judge asked the appellants’ counsel to satisfy the court on the point of maintainability of his clients’ appeal.

The Islamia College is among Pakistan’s oldest educational institutions which were nationalised under the martial law regulations in 1972 and since then the Sindh education department has been managing its affairs.

The ground-plus-three-storey Islamia College building complex is situated in Jamshed Quarters and before nationalisation the colleges and schools that exist within the complex were running under the administration of the Islamic Education Trust.

Mamnoon’s help sought against eviction

The convener of the Islamia College Bachao Committee on Tuesday appealed to the President of Pakistan to save the historic college from eviction.

Mohammad Mubin, the convener of the committee, said evacuation of the building, as per the court’s decision, will put the future of thousands of their students at stake. He said that he was well aware that interfering in the court’s decision would be committing a contempt of court but President Mamnoon Hussain, who enjoys immunity in this regard, can step in and save the historic college.

He suggested that a presidential ordinance can bring the matter into the jurisdiction of the federal government by upgrading the status of the college to university level.

He also informed that the sword of eviction hanging upon their heads was a cause of alarm and insecurity among the students and their parents.

Among the alumni of the college are famous names of cricketers such as Zaheer Abbas and Shahid Afridi, Olympian Munawar uz Zaman, political scientists like Hasan Askari Rizvi and politicians like Mustafa Kamal and Nasrullah Shajji.

The three-storey and 192-room Islamia College — established through the efforts of the trust founder M.A. Qureshi and inaugurated by President Ayub Khan in Aug 1961 — occupies an area of around five acres. On one side of the college lies M.A. Jinnah Road and on the other side is Jigar Muradabadi Road.

The college comprises 15 departments including faculties of science, law, arts and commerce and modern science laboratories stocked with latest equipment, a library with over 60,000 books and other facilities.

A meeting of the All India National Congress, also attended by Mahatma Gandhi, was held on the plot site of the college in 1934.

The graves of two prominent religious scholars, Syed Suleman Nadvi and Maulana Shabbir Ahmed Usmani, are also situated within the college complex.

Published in Dawn, December 6th, 2017