District govt barred from demolishing Khokhars’ property

Published January 27, 2021
The Lahore Development Authority demolishes the houses of PML-N’s Khokhar family on Sunday. — White Star/File
The Lahore Development Authority demolishes the houses of PML-N’s Khokhar family on Sunday. — White Star/File

LAHORE: Lahore High Court Chief Justice Muhammad Qasim Khan on Tuesday restrained the district government from further demolishing “Khokhar Palace”, the residences of PML-N leader Saiful Malook Khokhar, and directed both sides to approach the civil court for the resolution of the dispute.

The chief justice also suspended a directive of Lahore’s deputy commissioner about bulldozing the palace, however, restrained the Khokhar brothers from reconstructing the demolished property till a decision from the civil court. The leader of the opposition party had filed a contempt of court petition against the action of the government.

Earlier, representing the petitioner, Advocate Ahsan Bhoon told the court that the government demolished the property in violation of a stay order passed by a civil court and that too without issuing prior notices. He said the petitioner had been subjected to political victimisation.

Chief Justice Khan observed that the stay orders by a civil court needed to be honoured and complied with.

“What was the urgency that the government demolished the property despite a stay order,” the chief justice asked a government law officer.

Defending the government’s action, Additional Advocate General Asif Bhatti said a prior notice had been served on the petitioner and pasted at the property as well before the operation. He said a total of 134 illegal occupants, including the petitioner, were issued the notice.

He also opposed the maintainability of the petition and said the petitioner did not approach the court with clean hands.

Chief Justice Khan remarked that apparently the property in-question had been bulldozed for violation of LDA by-laws. He further noted that the civil court had already suspended the government’s directive under which the Khokhar Palace was razed.

Advocate Bhoon said a high-level committee previously formed by the Supreme Court had declared the petitioner lawful owner of the property in question. He said the petitioner had lawfully purchased the property adjacent to the Khokhar Palace.

At this, Chief Justice Khan asked the counsel who could refuse an offer from a powerful person.

“Being the neighbour of a powerful person can be disadvantageous,” the CJ added.

The CJ disposed of the contempt petition and directed the government and the petitioner to settle the dispute before the civil court.

Published in Dawn, January 27th, 2021

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