KARACHI: The new Supreme Court Registry building project in the provincial metropolis is likely to be completed in three years with an estimated cost of around Rs2 billion, officials said.
Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar had laid the foundation stone of the project on Dec 11 at the Pakistan Secretariat.
According to a chief engineer of the federal public works department, a piece of land measuring 6.89 acres has been acquired for the building at the Pakistan Secretariat after demolishing a number of barracks, which had housed customs courts, banking courts and federal services tribunals.
The two-storey building with a basement will have six courtrooms, judges’ chambers, conference rooms and spaces for the Supreme Court Bar Association, public and a mosque.
The basement will have the parking capacity of over 500 vehicles, he added.
The increased legal activities warrants a new and spacious accommodation for the Karachi Registry of the Supreme Court since the present building, situated on M.R. Kayani Road, has only two low-capacity courtrooms.
The apex court registry was established in Karachi in October 1957 in a rented wing of the Sindh High Court building. Later, it was moved to a Karachi Development Authority’s rest house on Stadium Road.
Since there was a growing need to have a suitable building for the registry, the present SC registry building, also known as the old State Bank building, was found appropriate and the provincial authorities had handed over the British-era building to the Supreme Court in May 1995.
After the repair and renovation works, the apex court registry was shifted in the building in February 1997.
It may be recalled that Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah had laid down the foundation of the State Bank of Pakistan head office in this building in July 1948.
The present Supreme Court Registry building is among old public buildings in the provincial capital and it was also declared a protected heritage.
The building was originally built during the British Raj. Its foundation stone was laid by the Duke of Connaught in 1887 during the reign of Queen Victoria. The building was meant to house a museum known as Victoria and Elbert Museum.
Sources said that after the proposed shifting of the apex court registry from the present building to the new building in the Pakistan Secretariat, the Old State Bank building is likely to be handed back to the provincial authorities.
Published in Dawn, December 24th, 2018