LHC suspends Ruda letter to local govt secretary

Published June 5, 2021
Previously, another judge of the LHC had stayed the process of land acquisition by the Ruda for Ravi Riverfront Urban Development Project without holding an environmental impact assessment of the project. — Wikimedia Commons/File
Previously, another judge of the LHC had stayed the process of land acquisition by the Ruda for Ravi Riverfront Urban Development Project without holding an environmental impact assessment of the project. — Wikimedia Commons/File

LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Friday suspended the operations of a letter written by the Ravi Urban Development Authority (Ruda) to the provincial secretary for local government and community development, asking the latter to stop dealing with the private housing societies or mega commercial infrastructures in its (Ruda) jurisdiction.

Chief Justice Muhammad Qasim Khan passed the order on a civil miscellaneous application filed by Al-Rehman developers in a pending writ petition against the establishment of the Ruda.

Advocate Waqar A. Sheikh appeared on behalf of the petitioner/developer and argued that the Ruda Act 2020 was ultra vires to the Local Government Act 2019 and article 140-A of the Constriction.

He said the establishment of the authority was also in conflict with the provisions of the Lahore Development Authority Act 1975.

The counsel argued that Ruda had written an unlawful letter on April 27, 2021 to the LG secretary, saying a matter relating to the jurisdiction of the authority was pending with the provincial cabinet. He said the letter asked the local government not to entertain the applications of the housing societies and commercial infrastructure falling in the proposed jurisdiction of the Ruda during the pendency of the matter before the cabinet.

Land acquisition already stayed by court

The counsel said that Ruda itself was unconstitutional and based upon regulatory capture and it was made to grab land from farmers and other land holders. He asked the court to set aside the impugned letter as it was “unlawful and unconstitutional”.

The chief justice suspended the Ruda’s letter and issued notices to the respondents for their replies. The next hearing on the application will be held along with the main petition.

Previously, another judge of the LHC had stayed the process of land acquisition by the Ruda for Ravi Riverfront Urban Development Project without holding an environmental impact assessment of the project.

Several petitioners had challenged the mode and manner of the land acquisition proceedings undertaken by Ruda for the project. They claimed that the hearing on the objections on land acquisition was to be held on March 2, 2021; however, due to a law and order situation created on that day, no hearing could be held.

However, despite these circumstances, they said, the land acquisition collector of the Ruda passed 18 awards on the same day amounting to multiple billion rupees. The petitioners also challenged the legality of forceful acquisition of land for commercial purposes under the Land Acquisition Act, 1894.

Published in Dawn, June 5th, 2021

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