KARACHI: The Sindh High Court on Tuesday summoned the chief secretary for Oct 24 as the issue of 100 acres of land for a proposed bus terminal near Superhighway remained unsolved.

A two-judge SHC bench headed by Justice Mohammad Ali Mazhar observed that in case the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) was facing a financial crunch, it would be the responsibility of the provincial government to construct different bus terminals in compliance with the orders of the superior judiciary.

In the last hearing, the bench asked the chief secretary to appear in court as a KMC official submitted that demarcation of the land for proposed terminal at Superhighway had not been made yet.

The SHC asks provincial govt to appoint new prosecutor in Daniel Pearl murder case

The court was hearing a set of petitions about the issues of heavy vehicles and deteriorating traffic situation in the provincial metropolis on Tuesday when a focal person requested for exemption of the chief secretary’s appearance on the ground that he was presiding over a meeting on Karachi’s infrastructure.

The transport secretary submitted a compliance report along with a summary sent to the chief minister on Sept 16 for construction of 100-acre intercity bus terminal. The court also directed him to come up with a progress report about the summary on the next hearing.

The bench observed that the issue of the land, which was required to be handed over by the Sindh government to KMC, was still unresolved.

The senior member of the Board of Revenue informed the bench that as per the terms and conditions, the land was to be handed over but on payment by the KMC.

On the contrary, the KMC representative submitted that they had no funds to even pay pension and salaries of their employees and pensioners due to a financial crunch and said that the KMC could not bear the expenses.

However, some associations of transporters offered that if the land was handed over to KMC, they will develop the terminal on a build-operate-transfer basis.

The court observed that this issue cannot be resolved without the appearance of the chief secretary as in case of a financial crunch faced by KMC, there must be some modalities to hand over the land to it for construction of a terminal.

It is otherwise the responsibility of the Sindh government to construct different terminals in compliance with the order passed by this court and the Supreme Court, it added.

The bench directed the chief secretary to be in attendance on Oct 24 without fail.

The joint secretary of the All Pakistan Bus & Van Owners Welfare Association had earlier offered 30 acres of land for the terminal, but the transport secretary said that the documents in this regard had been sent for verification but no confirmation had been received so far.

The court directed the joint secretary of the association to submit the set of title documents to the commissioner office for verification and also asked the commissioner to verify these documents before the next hearing.

Hearing adjourned in Pearl murder case

Another two-judge SHC bench on Tuesday directed the law secretary to inform it about appointment of another prosecutor to plead the appeals filed by convicts in the US journalist Daniel Pearl’s abduction and murder case as the pervious prosecutor had passed away.

Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh and other convicts had moved the SHC in 2002 challenging their convictions handed down by an antiterrorism court in Hyderabad in the Pearl murder case.

The trial court had sentenced Omar Sheikh to death while co-accused Fahad Naseem, Salman Saqib and Sheikh Adil were handed down life term for helping the main convict in the abduction of the slain journalist.

The Wall Street Journal correspondent was researching a story on religious extremists when he was kidnapped in Karachi in January 2002.

The appeals were fixed for hearing on Tuesday before a division bench headed by Justice K.K. Agha when a deputy prosecutor general informed the bench that Raja Qureshi, who was appointed as special public prosecutor in the case by the law secretary, had passed away.

The court directed the law secretary to inform it on Nov 20 about the appointment of a new prosecutor.

Published in Dawn, September 18th, 2019