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ISLAMABAD: The Capital Development Authority (CDA) on Wednesday has identified and reserved land for district courts in the capital’s rural areas.

The authority’s planning wing has earmarked 3.2 acres in Taramri for the proposed district courts (east), and the chairman and judicial officers visited the site on Wednesday, sources said.

The capital, spread over 906 kilometres, is divided into five zones with a population of more than two million. The district courts of the capital are in F-8 Markaz, and both the east and west courts are situated there.

Efforts are now being made to move the district courts (east) to the eastern side of the city, in Taramri. The area is said to be easily accessible by Park Road. There are a large number of housing societies and villages in the area.

CDA spokesperson Syed Safdar Ali said the CDA earmarked a site for the proposed district courts (east) on Wednesday. He said the CDA would dispose ofthe land in accordance with its rules and regulations.

The district courts were supposed to be moved from F-8 to a complex in G-10/1 that was built specifically for this purpose. That building currently houses the Islamabad High Court (IHC), which will later move to G-5 to a building that is nearing completion. Once the IHC moves to G-5, the district courts (west) will likely move to the complex in G-10/1. The F-8 courts are operating in small rented buildings in a commercial area, leading to traffic congestion and a lack of parking space in the surrounding market.

Lacking space to build their chambers, lawyers have also encroached upon greenbelts, pavements, open spaces and a football ground nearby.

IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah has expressed displeasure over the state of the district courts and last month directed the Islamabad Capital Territory administration to prepare a proposal to set up purpose-built district courts.

In a written order on a petition seeking the establishment of model courts in the capital last month, Justice Minallah observed that courts in the capital “were established in privately owned commercial buildings in commercial areas since three decades. What can be more ironic that the landlords of these rented buildings are filing eviction petitions in the same courts and most of [the] petitions were allowed. Execution petitions are also pending before the same [courts].”

After hearing contentions of city’s managers, the court had termed the state of affairs in the district judiciary “deplorable”.

Published in Dawn, March 14th, 2019