View from the courtroom: PAF Golf Club allowed to construct building, but with conditions

Published January 18, 2021
The bench of Justice Mohammad Nasir Mahfooz and Justice Syed Arshid Ali disposed of the petition on Dec 22 and has recently released the detailed judgment.  — APP/File
The bench of Justice Mohammad Nasir Mahfooz and Justice Syed Arshid Ali disposed of the petition on Dec 22 and has recently released the detailed judgment. — APP/File

In an ongoing dispute between several residents of Peshawar’s Shami Road, an upscale area of the provincial capital, and the PAF Golf Club over construction of a multi-storey building in the area, the Peshawar High Court recently allowed the club to continue with the construction work, but with the conditions that the building would not be used for commercial purposes and privacy rights of the area people would be respected.

Dr Shahkar and some other residents of Shami Road had filed a petition before the high court, requesting it to order stoppage of the construction work.

They claimed that the multi-storey building was that of a proposed cinema hall and commercial plaza which violated privacy of people and the said land could not be used for commercial purposes under the law.

While the PAF Golf Club authorities denied that they had been constructing a cinema hall and plaza, they said that they had been constructing a multipurpose hall that would be used by the golfers for routine training of caddies and staff and would be reserved for the members only.

The authorities had also disowned an advertisement wherein it was mentioned that the construction was for commercial purposes.

The bench of Justice Mohammad Nasir Mahfooz and Justice Syed Arshid Ali disposed of the petition on Dec 22 and has recently released the detailed judgment.

“Keeping in view the legal and factual aspect of the matter, we feel that after disowning the advertisement for using the premises of the Golf Club for commercial purposes, the said construction could be allowed to be used for providing additional facilities to the golfers only,” the bench ruled.

The bench directed that the construction should not in any manner violate the privacy right of the residents of the area.

“In case, any window has been opened facing the residential area, the same must be closed and if possible the respondents may avoid large-scale gatherings,” the bench ruled.

The court ordered that any slight indication for conversion of the building into commercial use would definitely be a ground available with the petitioners or any other residents of the area, to invoke jurisdiction of the high court so that the present proceedings were not misinterpreted as to allow the commercial use.

The bench observed that even the lawyers appearing for respondents (PAF and federal government) made a commitment that no commercial activities would be carried out on the premises of golf club.

Advocate Zahid Idress Mufti appeared for the petitioners and stated that the ongoing construction revealed that it was a multi-storey building and windows had been opened facing his client’s house.

He contended that this was on the one hand alien to the provision of Land Administration Manual-Rules and on the other, it seriously affected privacy right of the petitioners who had been residing there for many decades.

He stated that the road leading to the PAF Golf Club passed through residential area of Shami Road, Peshawar, and residences surrounding the Golf Club, so any such high storey building would certainly affect the privacy right of the residents.

The counsel stated that his clients and other residents were never disturbed by the authorities, but all of a sudden the respondents started construction in front of the residences while they were not taken into confidence and no notice for construction was given to them.

He claimed that the petitioner tried to get knowledge/purpose of the construction and to get the record of the sanction and sketch/drawing of the construction in question, but the request was not acceded by the relevant authorities.

The counsel was of the opinion that the area which fell within the precincts of golf club had been classified as Class “A” (1) and “A” (2) and no such construction could be made on it and it could not be used for commercial activities. He also produced photographs showing large-scale construction on the site.

However, the respondents denied that the said construction was meant for cinema hall and plaza.

The lawyers representing the federal government, PAF Golf Club and other respondents submitted that the purpose of construction was to build facilities to train different golfers and it would be neither used as Cinema Hall nor for any commercial activities.

They disowned advertisement titled “Invitation of Proposals for Commercial Activity” published in different newspapers on Dec 22, 2019, and issued by the PAF Golf Club, Peshawar.

The bench ruled that the classification of land was meant for the purpose of fortifications, barracks, stores, arsenals, aerodromes and bungalows for military officers which were the property of Government, parade grounds, military recreation grounds, golf courses, etc.

The bench pointed out that the copy of contract agreement of May 29, 2020, between the PAF Golf Club and TS Builder revealed: (a) Construction of Building 1- Members Building (b) Construction of Building 2- Driving Range (c) Renovation of Building 3- Existing Club House for a total sum of Rs119.65 million.

Published in Dawn, January 18th, 2021

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