The Supreme Court observed on Monday that it is the job of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf-led (PTI) government to regularise all properties located in the Banigala area of Islamabad, including the residence of Prime Minister Imran Khan.
While recalling that it was Khan himself who had approached the apex court with an application regarding illegal constructions in Banigala, Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar said the prime minister would have to initiate the process of regularisation of the area by paying the required fee.
"Imran Khan should submit fees towards regularisation before anyone else," directed Justice Nisar, who was heading a three-judge bench.
Examine: Banigala: built on illegalities
The court ordered that all unauthorised constructions around Korang riverbed should be demolished in the light of a report prepared by the Survey of Pakistan.
At the outset of the hearing, the additional attorney general (AAG) presented the Survey of Pakistan's report regarding illegal constructions in Banigala. He informed the court that the reports prepared by the Capital Development Authority and the federal ombudsman are similar to the report of Survey of Pakistan.
He said an area of 21 square kilometres had been covered as part of the survey, which revealed that more than 600 kanals have been encroached upon.
The AAG informed the bench that so much trash had been dumped into an adjoining lake in Banigala that its water was standing still. He said the encroachments in the area could be removed if the court issues an order to this effect.
The CJP wondered how encroachments could be removed in Banigala, saying that besides illegal constructions issues like security and pollution are also impacting the area.
He said a new government is now in power and it should look towards resolving these issues.
"Those responsible for illegal constructions need to be fined," the top judge remarked.
He observed that while the constructions outside the limits of Korang riverbed could not be razed, those within its perimeters are "not acceptable in any condition".
He directed the federal government to regularise all constructions in the area, including its own.
Wrapping up the case to the extent of encroachments, the bench also ordered the government to pay its own penalties, and collect those due to be paid by citizens.
Babar Awan, the counsel representing Khan, informed the court that the matter regarding regularisation of illegal constructions in the area has been sent to the federal cabinet and sought time to confirm whether the cabinet has greenlighted the regularisation.
The top court subsequently ordered authorities to demolish all encroachments around Korang riverbed in the light of the report drafted by the Survey of Pakistan.
The hearing of the case was adjourned until October 12.
On a suo motu, the apex court had taken up illegal constructions in Banigala on a letter written by PTI chief Khan. The PTI leader had invited the court’s attention towards the large-scale encroachment on the botanical garden, unchecked and unplanned construction in Banigala, massive denuding due to large scale tree felling and pollution of the Rawal Lake due to sewage.