ISLAMABAD: As many as five courts of Islamabad judiciary have been illegally constructed on private land, according to a testimony filed by the Islamabad High Court to the Supreme Court.
It has been disclosed in a letter written by the IHC registrar to the SC registrar in response to the apex court’s directives in a football ground case. The apex court had sought a report from the IHC on the construction of courts in the playground.
The IHC chief justice also ordered a forensic audit by the Auditor General of Pakistan (AGP) of the illegal construction of courts.
The IHC registrar in the letter stated that no court was ever constructed in the football ground. However, citing a letter of the district and sessions judge, the registrar said that “some encroachment has been made in the commercial area of F-8 Markaz. It has been reported that some courts were illegally constructed on a plot owned by a private citizen”.
Subsequently, “the Capital Development Authority (CDA) has been directed to take action and remove the illegal encroachments made by the courts”.
In a separate letter to the interior secretary and CDA chairman, the IHC registrar reminded them that the executive was responsible for providing an appropriate place for establishment of the courts.
The letter said: “The Capital Development Authority and the local administration appear to have been complacent to the construction of illegal courts on encroached land. The Capital Development Authority has already been directed to take action and remove the illegally constructed courts in order to uphold the rule of law.”
According to the letter, IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah has directed that “urgent steps be taken to provide suitable buildings for establishing the courts, having regard to the litigants’ right of meaningful access to the courts and justice at their doorstep”.
Meanwhile, the IHC registrar asked the AGP to conduct “forensic audit of the district courts”. The registrar told the AGP that “the district and sessions judge (west) has brought it to the notice of the Hon’ble Chief Justice, Islamabad High Court, that some encroachment has been made in the commercial area of F-8 Markaz and some courts were illegally constructed on a plot owned by a private citizen”.
The IHC chief justice had directed that the AGP office be requested to nominate its officials to conduct a “forensic audit” of the illegal construction of courts on encroached land, out of public funds in the commercial area of F-8 Markaz and identity the authorities responsible for the loss to the exchequer.
The IHC had on Feb 16 directed the CDA to retrieve the football ground’s land from the lawyers and restore the playground by March 23.
The petitioner in the case, a resident of Islamabad, argued that the multipurpose playground had been encroached by the enrolled advocates and the occupants of adjoining commercial buildings.
The lawyers had filed an appeal against the IHC order in the Supreme Court which dismissed the plea on March 2.
Published in Dawn, March 9th, 2021