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KARACHI: The Supreme Court on Friday directed the Sindh Building Control Authority (SBCA) to get vacated all properties of the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) from unlawful occupants across the city.

A three-judge bench, headed by Justice Gulzar Ahmed, directed the SBCA director general to take strict action in accordance with the law against the officers involved in corrupt practices and allowing unlawful occupation of the trust’s properties.

The bench was hearing a petition at the SC’s Karachi registry regarding unauthorised construction on an evacuee trust property in Lyari’s Moosa Lane.

At the outset, Justice Ahmed expressed his dismay over failure of the SBCA in protecting the trust’s property in question.

The authority says steps could not be taken due to poor law & order situation

Malik Eijaz Ahmed, SBCA’s director for Lyari, submitted that measures could not be taken to save the property in question due to poor law and order in Lyari, which was under the control of a particular political party.

The judge told the officer that they should better sit at home if they could not perform their official duties.

He deplored that the SBCA had ruined the entire city.

Justice Ahmed asked where the writ of the state was when the building in question was unlawfully occupied.

The SBCA officials conceded that around 17 properties of the trust were illegally occupied in Lyari alone during the gang warfare in the neighbourhood.

They added that the land mafia had later sold these properties and now families were living there.

The bench observed that it meant that there must be more properties of the ETPB in the city, which might have been occupied in an unlawful manner.

The bench directed the SBCA chief to reclaim all the properties of the trust that had been occupied in violation of the laws.

He was also directed to initiate an inquiry against those officers who had allowed such unlawful occupation and take action against them strictly in accordance with the law.

However, the bench members said that the provincial government may consider the option of providing alternative spaces to those to be evicted from these properties.

An additional advocate general was directed to submit a report in this regard within two weeks.

The court had long been directing the SBCA, the ETPB and other authorities to get the illegal structures razed on the subject property and its unlawful occupants evicted.

In March, the apex court had directed the chief secretary to take concrete measures to have illegal sections of the building vacated and demolished.

Expressing their dismay over the poor performance and ignorance of the SBCA and ETPB officials, the judges had remarked that their officers had been involved in such practices and allowing illegal occupation by taking bribe, etc.

Published in Dawn, December 22nd, 2018