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THE chief justice of Pakistan along with other judges at the foundation stone laying ceremony of the SC’s new registry building on Tuesday.—APP
THE chief justice of Pakistan along with other judges at the foundation stone laying ceremony of the SC’s new registry building on Tuesday.—APP

KARACHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday withdrew a ban it had earlier imposed on the construction of high-rise buildings in the provincial metropolis.

A three-judge SC bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar directed the Sindh Building Control Authority (SCBA) to allow construction in accordance with its rules and regulations.

The Association of Builders and Developers (Abad), through its lawyer Faisal Siddiqui, filed an application against the ban on the construction of any building having more than six floors.

The applicant’s lawyer submitted that the ban was imposed in view of water issues, but the construction of high-rise buildings could not be immediately linked with the water issues since a building took three to six years to complete.

He argued that many industries attached with the construction business and their future was at stake due to the ban.

When the chief justice asked how many floors were allowed under the rules and regulations, Attorney General Anwar Mansoor Khan replied that up to 25 floors were allowed under the relevant law.

Justice Ijaz Ul Ahsan, one of the members of the bench, asked whether the city administration was equipped in case a fire broke out in a high-rise building.

The CJP also pointed out that the city was facing a serious water shortage.

However, the bench withdrew the ban and allowed the construction of high-rise buildings in accordance with the Karachi Building and Town Planning Regulations 2002.

The attorney general says construction of 25-storey buildings is permitted under relevant law

The chief justice observed that it was the responsibility of legislatures to form or amend laws after Venu G. Advani, a citizen from Karachi, expressed concerns over the construction of high-rise buildings in the city.

On March 16, 2017 the apex court had imposed a ban on construction of high-rise buildings in the city and restrained the SBCA and cantonment boards from issuing building approval plans for new high-rise and multi-storey commercial and residential projects.

The judgement came in a matter relating to non-availability of potable water and deteriorating sanitation conditions in Karachi and the rest of the province, and the court had only allowed construction of buildings with ground-plus-two floors.

However, on Jan 14 the court had granted provisional permission to builders for construction of six storeys in the city after Abad and other bodies had moved the court for review of its March 16 order.

Police told to produce Tappi in court today

During the hearing, a resident of Shah Latif Town, Malir alleged that the provincial government was supporting land grabbers in the area and accused former PPP minister Owais Muzaffar aka Tappi, a foster brother of former president Asif Ali Zardari, of encroaching upon the people’s land.

The CJP directed a senior police officer present in the courtroom to produce Mr Tappi on Wednesday (today).

The chief justice also asked the provincial law officer to tell Sindh’s ministers that if they encroached upon any land the same must be cleared immediately.

The bench also warned Karachi Mayor Wasim Akhtar that no political leader be involved in encroachments and directed them to put their house in order.

Registration of Justice Wajih’s party restored

The bench also set aside a notification of the Election Commission of Pakistan that delisted the Aam Log Ittehad party of retired Justice Wajihuddin Ahmed in July.

The former SC judge challenged the ECP’s notification before the apex court and after hearing his arguments the bench set aside the notification and observed that there was no speaking order behind the notification.

The bench also directed the ECP to issue a show-cause notice in advance and fulfil all formalities including providing an opportunity to the appellant if it took any adverse action against the party in future.

NAB’s call-up notice to ex-judge suspended

The chief justice suspended a call-up notice of the National Accountability Bureau issued to a senior lawyer and came down hard on the bureau’s officials for summoning the lawyer for pursuing cases.

The bench also restrained NAB from summoning Advocate Salman Hamid and said it could issue a questionnaire to the lawyer for the purpose of investigation and sought report in 10 days.

Advocate Hamid, who had also served as an additional judge of the Sindh High Court for two years, along with dozens of lawyers approached the Supreme Court.

NAB had sent him a call-up notice to appear in an investigation being conducted against some officials of the revenue department for allegedly inserting fake and fabricated entries in the record of rights in respect of a 36-acre plot of land in Scheme 33, Karachi.

Meanwhile, the chief justice directed the inspector general of police to arrest culprits involved in a triple murder case.

A woman moved an application before the CJP submitting that her father, uncle and grandfather were killed in Dadu and Mahar.

She alleged that an MPA of the PPP and others were involved in the incidents and the police were reluctant to arrest them.

Published in Dawn, December 12th, 2018