KARACHI: An anti-encroachment tribunal has issued notices to the federal, provincial and local government authorities on lawsuits against possible demolition of houses on the leased land during an ongoing operation along Gujjar Nullah.
The tribunal directed the LG secretary, Karachi administrator and commissioner, the chairman of the district municipal corporation East, the director general/chairman of the Sindh Katchi Abadi Authority and the chairman of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) to submit their replies till Feb 15.
Residents of Federal B Area and New Karachi separately instituted two suits, citing the abovementioned federal, provincial and LG authorities as defendants.
Advocate Khawaja Altaf submitted that he had built a house in F B Area’s Block-5 after obtaining lease from the provincial Katchi Abadi department upon fulfilling all the requisite legal formalities in 2002.
He further submitted that the department had granted 99-year lease to him in respect of the subject plot.
The anti-encroachment tribunal will take up the matter again on 15th
However, the plaintiff said the officials of the KMC’s anti-encroachment department had marked his house as illegal and he came to know that the same construction would be demolished on Feb 18 or so.
He submitted that during the ongoing operation against illegal encroachments along Gujjar Nullah in order to retrieve the land from the alleged illegal occupants, the officials were going to demolish the houses built over duly leased plots.
In the second suit, the plaintiffs submitted that they had built houses in New Karachi after obtaining 99-year lease from the Karachi Development Authority, but KMC officials had also marked their houses as illegal and it was feared that the same would be demolished on Feb 18 or so.
They contended that the action by the provincial and KMC authorities was illegal and unwarranted since they possessed proper lease documents in respect of the subject plots, where they had built their houses.
The plaintiffs stated that no prior notices had been issued to them by the relevant department of the KMC, which had simply published an advertisement in newspapers asking the residents along Gujjar Nullah to vacate the land within one week.
They contended that the KMC’s action to demolish the houses built over lawfully leased land would be in violation of the Supreme Court’s Aug 12, 2020 orders, wherein the apex court had clearly directed the Sindh government to properly rehabilitate those whose houses were supposed to be demolished during the anti-encroachment drive.
Secondly, the plaintiffs contended that any action on part of the KMC’s anti-encroachment department to bulldoze their lawfully built houses would also be in violation of the provisions of the Anti-Encroachment Act, 2010 as the law protects any construction raised over a properly leased piece of land.
Therefore, they pleaded to the tribunal to order the provincial and local government authorities to refrain from bulldozing their houses.
They also sought a stay order to restrain the KMC officials from demolishing their houses till final disposal of the lawsuits.
After initial hearing, the tribunal issued notices to the defendants with direction to submit their respective replies till Feb 15 and adjourned the hearing.
Published in Dawn, February 14th, 2021
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