KARACHI: The Supreme Court ruled that Sindh government was bound to make provision for expansion of the Sindh High Court at Karachi and restrained it from any construction for expansion of the Sindh Secretariat on two plots adjacent to the SHC building.
A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed issued the restraining order after it was informed that the two vacant plots on the right and left sides of the SHC building in Karachi were available and the provincial government had proposed to build expansion blocks of the Sindh Secretariat on them.
While hearing an application of the Sindh High Court Bar Association about parking issues being faced by lawyers on the SHC premises, the bench also comprising Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan and Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel observed that access to justice was a fundamental right of people.
The bench in its order noted that the present SHC building had already become incapable of accommodating the sitting judges and looking at future increase in the strength of judges of the SHC, there would be no room for expansion within the premises and rather such extension had to be made on the available land around it.
The concerns about parking of lawyers and litigants can also be addressed, it added.
“We may note that access to justice is a fundamental right of people of Pakistan and such a right includes provision of courts. Thus, for meeting the very fundamental right, Sindh government is bound under the constitution to make provision for expansion of Sindh High Court at Karachi and provide land to it for doing so. It is obvious that the Sindh High Court Karachi cannot be shifted from where it is situated now and its adjacent lands, which are vacant, are the only option where new blocks of Sindh High Court building at Karachi can be constructed and provision for parking of vehicles for lawyers and litigants can be made”, the bench said in its order.
Order reserved on a plea of owners of marriage halls in Korangi against demolition
In these circumstances, it further observed, there appeared to be no option but to retain the two plots adjacent to the SHC building for its future expansion and the provincial government must fulfil its constitutional mandate for this provision.
“The Sindh government shall not create any third party interest or construct any sort of a building or structure on the said two pieces of land until the matter regarding expansion of the Sindh High Court building at Karachi as well as the parking space for the lawyers and litigants is resolved,” it concluded.
CJP deplores commercialisation of city
The same bench of the apex court reserved its order on an application filed against the demolition of marriage halls on Korangi Road near Korangi Crossing after hearing arguments.
Earlier, the chief justice had ordered the demolition of wedding halls since the same were located on the land meant for residential purposes.
The lawyer for the applicants, Anwar Mansoor Khan, submitted that under a policy decision a committee of the Sindh Building Control Authority had recommended conversion of such halls from residential to commercial in 2017 under Section 21-A of the Sindh Building Town Regulations and also issued a notification in this regard.
He argued that the commercialisation of around 25 areas of the provincial metropolis had been made in a similar manner and it was in accordance with law.
The bench remarked that how the SBCA or its committee could modify the status of land and as per the section in question all the regulations had to be consistent with the ordinance/law.
Justice Ahsan said that there had to be a proper mechanism of commercialisation. The chief justice deplored that almost the entire city has been commercialised.
At one stage, the bench noted that Sindh Advocate General Salman Talibuddin was apparently supporting the augments of the lawyer for marriage hall owners and asked him whether he was adopting the arguments of the counsel for applicants. However, he replied in the negative.
Published in Dawn, April 10th, 2021