KARACHI: The Sindh High Court on Thursday put the Cantonment Board Clifton and Defence Housing Authority on notice on a petition about flooding during recent rains.

In a related development, a sessions court on Thursday granted interim bail before arrest to seven residents of the Defence Housing Authority booked for allegedly protesting outside the Cantonment Board Clifton’s office on Monday against the authorities’ slackness in removing rainwater from the roads in the DHA and Clifton.

Around 60 residents of Clifton and DHA had petitioned the SHC seeking formation of a committee to supervise the sanitation projects, forensic audit of CBC and DHA accounts after the auditor general’s report found irregularities.

The two-judge bench headed by Justice Mohammad Shafi Siddiqui issued notices to CBC and DHA as well as the deputy attorney general and advocate general Sindh to file comments and report back after three weeks.

Sessions court grants bail to several protesters

The bench expressed surprise over cancelation of tenders for cleaning of storm-water drains by the CBC before the monsoon season.

The bench further said that counsel for petitioners also produced the audit reports of auditor general of Pakistan in respect of defence services which showed serious irregularities and lack of transparency in bidding process of different issues which resulted in collusive practice each year to obtain conservancy work.

The audit report of 2018-19 disclosed that the contract works were awarded to different contractors without advertisement which is mandatory under the PEPRA law, the bench in its order stated, adding that thus, there was no competition amongst the bidders.

“There was no transparency at all in awarding such contract as disclosed in the audit report. There had been no preparation before the start of rain monsoon season. The Met office had forecasted heavy rains well before they could have prepared themselves to meet situation but they proved to be inefficient besides being incompetent and unqualified”, the bench in its order said.

The petitioners through a panel of lawyers moved the SHC and argued that the authorities concerned have completely failed to handle the situation during and after the rains and to perform their statutory duties.

The lead counsel Mohsin Shahwani informed the bench that the CBC had issued tender notices for desilting of drains in April, however, he contended that the lowest bid was rejected and no reason was given for its cancellation and another tender was set to open on Sept 15.

The lawyer further contended that there was an alarming situation in the entire city as no official came forward to rescue the citizens and in order to deprive the petitioners and others from their right to assemble, an FIR was lodged against them for staging a peaceful demonstration at CBC’s office on Aug 31.

Bail for protesters

With regard to the protest held outside the CBC office on Monday, Darakshan police had booked around 22 named and other unidentified protesters who participated in the hours-long protest on the complaint of a CBC officer.

On Thursday, around seven residents moved applications before the additional district and sessions judge (South) Ramesh Kumar seeking grant of pre-arrest bail to avoid their arrest by the police.

Without touching the merits of the case, the judge granted pre-arrest bail to the applicants including Yasir Bilal Mahpara, Ahmed Owais, Muhammad Ammar, Kanwar Saeed and others subject to furnishing a surety of Rs20,000 each with direction to join investigation.

The court also issued notices to the state prosecutor, the complainant and the investigating officer of the case to appear on Sept 7 for arguments on the bail pleas.

A case has been registered under relevant sections of the law on the complaint of Munawwar Hasan, building and security supervisor of the CBC.

Published in Dawn, September 4th, 2020

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