The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Friday ordered the Karachi authorities to take joint action against the commercial use of land meant for residential properties in the metropolis.
Headed by Justice Irfan Saadat Khan, a two-member bench while hearing a petition against the commercial use of residential areas, ordered the mayor of Karachi, the project director of the Lines Area Development Authority, the Sindh Building Control Authority (SBCA) and others to present a report within 15 days after taking action on court directives.
During the hearing today, the SBCA lawyer informed the court that ending encroachments did not come within the authority's jurisdiction, to which Justice Khan responded by saying that "these aren't encroachments ... these are illegal constructions".
The lawyer also said that the SBCA could not take action with regards to public land. But the argument did not sit well with the SHC judge, who said: "If illegal work is being done on public land, do the SBCA's hands and feet get cut off?"
Justice Khan verbally directed the institutions to take help from the police to end the illegal constructions, saying "if the police does not do the job, we will provide Rangers, but the constructions should be ended."
The court also expressed displeasure at the lack of implementation of its previous orders on the matter.
The SBCA lawyer said the Lines Area Development Authority has the authority to take act in some areas, but the lawyer for that authority said whenever they try to end the commercial use of residential properties, people start such businesses again.
"Our job is to close shops, not break them," he said.
The petition filed by Advocate Syed Attaullah Shah sought action against the commercial use of residential land, saying people involved in such practices are influential and therefore no organisation takes action against them.
The petitioner said the court orders have not been implemented since 2012 and sought contempt of court proceedings against the parties concerned.