SC declares allotment of land for KPT housing society illegal

February 08, 2020

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Men walk down Mai Kolachi Road in this file photo.—White Star
Men walk down Mai Kolachi Road in this file photo.—White Star

KARACHI: Declaring that the allotment of land on both sides of Mai Kolachi Road for the Karachi Port Trust Cooperative Housing Society was illegal, the Supreme Court on Friday directed the KPT chairman to ensure plantation of mangroves on the said land within two months.

A three-judge SC bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed observed that the land was provided to the KPT only for the purpose of management and operations of the port and any lease made in favour of its trustees or employees was illegal.

The bench in its May 2019 order observed: “The land on both sides of Mai Kolachi Road was full of mangroves at one time with passage of sea water, now there is barren land and passage of sea water has been blocked. The chairman shall ensure that plantation of mangroves is made on both sides of the Mai Kolachi Road and flow of sea water is restored touching Bath Island area.”

When the matter came up for hearing on Friday, the KPT chairman and his lawyers argued against the earlier order and submitted that the lease was made in accordance with the KPT Act of 1886.

Court rules KPT cannot lease land to its trustees, employees; mangrove plantation on both sides of Mai Kolachi Road ordered

After hearing Advocate Ali Zafar, who advanced his arguments from the apex court’s Lahore registry through a video link, Advocate Yawar Farooqui, KPT chairman and the attorney general (AG) at length, the bench observed that its last order was still intact as nothing had come on record against it.

It further noted that the purpose of the land was only for management and operations of the port and the KPT cannot allot or lease the land to any trustee or employee.

The bench stated that the KPT chairman submitted that the federal government had allowed the organisation to lease the land, but such permission was not supportable under the law.

The AG also admitted that a cooperative housing society could not be permitted on such a land, the bench said and directed the KPT chairman to implement its earlier order within two months.

It further observed that with regard to the encroachments on other lands of the KPT, it can take action in accordance with the law.

In may be recalled that in its May 9 judgement, the apex court had also observed, “The chairman KPT is directed to be present in court on next date with report signed by him that all port lands are used for port purposes and in accordance of the KPT Act, no land whatsoever of the port is either sold/transferred, leased, or transfer, allotted to any person or its employee and whatever allotment, lease or transfer has taken place to immediately cancel and revert back the same to the port”.

Published in Dawn, February 8th, 2020