LAHORE: The Supreme Court on Monday summoned record of stay orders issued by different courts in disputes of land owned by the Pakistan Railways and also issued notice to Hussnain Construction, the lessee of Royal Palm Country & Golf Club.
During hearing of a case regarding suspension of a railway track in mineral-rich area of Chakwal, Minister for Railways Sheikh Rasheed told a two-judge bench that the department was unable to recover its land from illegal occupants due to stay orders issued by the LHC and other courts.
Talking about the Royal Palm Club, the minister said its owners obtained a stay order from the high court when the previous railways administration tried to take over its land. He said the railways had been facing an annual loss of Rs35bn. He criticised the previous governments for ruining the railways by resorting to corrupt practices.
The minister sought permission from the court to continue with short-term leasing of the railways land for cultivation purposes to meet its expenses.
The CJP observed that the land could not be used for any other purpose except laying tracks and building stations. However, he said the question of shorter leasing would be decided on the next hearing.
Regarding the suspended track in Chakwal area, the minister said its revival would not be viable for the railways. He pointed out that a maximum of 21 passengers used to travel daily when the operation of the track was closed in 1991, while the revenue being received from it was just Rs258 per day.
He said the railways financial condition did not allow resumption of the Chakwal track.
A woman lawyer pleading for the restoration of Mandra-Chakwal railway line stated the track was operational since 1886. She said Sheikh Rashid during his previous stint as railways minister had in 2007 inaugurated the revived track. She said the railways, instead of reviving the track, used the land for residential purposes.
The CJP observed that it was the job of the railways to decide whether to run a train track in any area.
The CJP disposed of the petition in the light of the minister’s reply.
On the issue of encroachment, the bench adjourned hearing till Dec 27 and summoned record of all stay orders against the railways and also summoned Sheikh Ramzan of Royal Palm Club.
Published in Dawn, December 25th, 2018