ISLAMABAD: After finally losing patience, the Supreme Court on Tuesday initiated contempt of court proceedings against Railways Secretary Habibur Rehman Gillani and Chief Secretary of Sindh Syed Mumtaz Ali Shah for an apparent delay in the completion of Karachi Circular Railways (KCR) project.
Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed cautioned that things would not stop here, rather the court would call everybody, even Prime Minister Imran Khan and Sindh Chief Minister Sindh Syed Murad Ali Shah, if needed.
A three-judge Supreme Court bench comprising the chief justice, Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan and Justice Muneeb Akhtar had taken up a suo motu case relating to the colossal losses incurred by the Pakistan Railways (PR).
The court issued show cause notices to the railways secretary and the Sindh chief secretary, directing them to appear in person before the court at the next hearing of the case after two weeks and explain the reasons for the purported delay in completion of the KCR project.
The director general of the Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) was also asked to appear in person before the court.
The court regretted that the railways secretary had failed to implement the earlier court directions. Justice Ahsan said that whosoever wanted to explain anything should give it in writing.
Earlier the court had cautioned the Pakistan Railways (PR) and the Sindh government not to exceed the time line prescribed by the court and ensure arrangements for the running of the KCR.
In February last, the Supreme Court during one of the proceedings had proposed that work on the KCR should be commenced within six months.
Then the court was informed that the survey for construction of 11 underpasses in the way of the KCR route had been completed by the FWO whereas work on the remaining 13 underpasses would also be finished soon.
The court was told that necessary planning had been done while the designing was in progress and the contract for construction of the underpasses would be awarded the moment the FWO came up with a design plan and the construction cost estimate.
The court was asked to grant another six weeks to complete the required work and start work on the project.
On Tuesday the railways secretary told the court that the PR had obtained photographs from the SUPARCO showing encroachments on the land that was on the way of KCR track. Moreover, the railways have also issued letters to the FWO which has to construct the underpasses.
At this the chief justice observed that the court was issuing contempt of court notices since though time was provided to make the KCR project functional, the PR failed to adhere to the time frame granted to it.
Apparently it seemed that PR was deliberately delaying the KCR project and neither the railways nor the Sindh government were implementing the court directions, the chief justice said.
Advocate General of Sindh Salman Talibuddin requested the court to provide him an opportunity to clear the issue since the provincial government was implementing the court order. However, the court ignored the request and issued show cause notices to both the railways secretary and the chief secretary of Sindh.
Earlier during the last hearing, the Sindh government had told the court that it had taken steps to remove encroachments and different sites had been cleared though there were encroachments on both sides of the railway track in some of the areas and these encroachments would be removed soon.
The KCR revival project includes the transformation of the old KCR into a mass transit system. The total length of the railway line is expected to be 50km. Opened in 1964, the route of the old KCR started from Drigh Road and ended in downtown Karachi. The KCR ceased operations in 1999 after it suffered huge losses.
Published in Dawn, November 11th, 2020