ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) has constituted a four-member larger bench to hear a case related to the encroachment by lawyers on a football ground in F-8.

Headed by Chief Justice Athar Minallah and comprising senior pusine judge Justice Aamer Farooq, Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb, the bench will commence hearing by next week.

The Supreme Court in February last year took suo motu notice of the construction of chambers by the district courts lawyers on the football ground. After keeping the matter pending for about 10 months, the apex court referred the matter to the IHC in Dec 2018.

Former office-bearers of the District Bar Association Islamabad (DBAI) had divided the football ground into five blocks and named them after themselves.

Supreme Court in Feb last year took suo motu notice of construction of lawyers’ chambers on the ground and referred the matter to the court

One of the blocks was named after Naveed Malik, an ex-president of the association, while the others were named after former secretary Chauhdry Naseer, vice president Shakeel Awan, joint secretary Dilawar Khan and the fifth as Shuhada Block.

The encroachment started on the basis of a judicial order the lawyers obtained from a civil judge in 2013. However, after resistance by the traders of F-8, the Capital Development Authority (CDA) demolished about 30 under-construction chambers the same year. But almost half of the plots occupied by lawyers could not be retrieved.

There was even a clash between the lawyers and traders which forced the police to move an application with a court to seal the ground. In 2018, a stay order was issued by a senior civil judge restraining the CDA from interfering in the construction of the chambers on the public ground.

In addition to the football ground, the lawyers have also constructed chambers on footpaths, litigants’ sitting area and at every open space available in front of courtrooms as well as in the surrounding of the district courts.

Recently, the lawyers constructed chambers in the already narrowed corridors of the district courts, in front of the judges’ chambers and even inside the parent-children meeting hall.

After demolition of some of the chambers by the CDA, the lawyers staged a protest and detained about 20 judges inside courtrooms on Dec 21. They not only reconstructed the demolished chambers but also increased the number of the unauthorised chambers.

The Special Branch of the police declared the premises insecure due to mushroom growth of the chambers.

The CDA has included the football ground among the encroached amenity plots a list of which has already been submitted to the apex court and the IHC.

A CDA report said the lawyers had also encroached on state land worth millions of rupees that was retrieved after removing a restaurant.

The CDA in its report dated Dec 19, 2017, said the lawyers were constructing chambers on a public ground.

“Action undertaken by the lawyers is completely unlawful and stands in violation of the CDA Ordinance 1960,” the report added.

It also said when the CDA staff visited the area to retrieve the land and asked the lawyers to stop the work, they (lawyers) presented a stay order issued by the senior civil judge. The report is yet to be taken up by the IHC.

Published in Dawn, January 22nd, 2019