PESHAWAR: A Peshawar High Court bench on Wednesday sought replies from former chief minister and current defence minister Pervez Khattak and two others on a petition against the possession of a botanical garden’s land in Nowshera by the district administration.
Justice Qaiser Rasheed Khan and Justice Mohammad Ayub Khan directed Pervez Khattak, former Nowshera district nazim and current MPA Liaqat Khattak and then Nowshera deputy commissioner Iftikhar Alam to respond to the University of Peshawar syndicate’s petition in writing within three weeks and explain why contempt proceedings shouldn’t be initiated against them.
The UoP’s syndicate had filed the petition against the Nowshera district government for cancelling the lease of the land allotted for the Botanical Garden and Centre of Bio-Diversity and taking the possession of that land in early 2016.
The high court had issued a stay order against the land’s possession.
UoP syndicate insists possession of botanical garden land in Nowshera violates court order
However, the petitioner claimed that the respondents didn’t follow the court’s order.
During the hearing, Justice Qaisar Rasheed observed that if former CM Pervez Khattak was bent on giving the university’s land to a private university, he should use his personal land for the purpose.
He asked additional advocate general Sikandar Shah why he had been representing the respondents as during contempt proceedings, he had to act as the prosecutor against the alleged contemnors.
Waseemuddin Khattak, lawyer for the petitioner, said as the CM, Mr Khattak had ordered on Feb 24, 2014, to hand over around 500 kanals of the botanical garden’s land for setting up the Air University and Technical University but the high court declared that order illegal on June 9, 2014.
He said the district nazim had cancelled the lease of the land measuring 567 kanals on Feb 3, 2016, while the administration asked the UoP to hand over the land to the government.
The lawyer said the high court had asked the respondents to maintain status quo on the matter but they took the land’s possession and locked the main entrance to the botanical garden.
He said the botanical garden had many unique species of fishes and plants, which were being researched on, and if they were not taken care of properly, the facility would lose its worth.
The petitioner claimed that in Dec 2003, the UoP’s syndicate had approved the establishment of the Centre of Plant Biodiversity, which included the setting up of a Botanical Garden in Azakhel, Nowshera. He said the Higher Education Commission had sanctioned a grant of Rs37.86 million to help the university establish the centre.
The petitioner said the Nowshera district government had leased out the 689 kanals land to the university in Dec 2005 to establish the centre for 99 years but the university got a notice from it in Dec 2015 showing the intention for lease cancelation.
He added that after the university responded to the notice, the district government issued an order on Feb 3, 2016, cancelling the lease of 567 of the total 689 kanals land.
Published in Dawn, December 6th, 2018