KARACHI: The Supreme Court has directed the builders of the 15-storey Nasla Tower to refund the amount to the registered buyers of residential and commercial units within three months.

The apex court further said that in case of any delay in payment, the claimants may claim mark-up/profit at the bank rate together with damages and initiate proceedings for implementation of this order before the court of competent jurisdiction.

On June 16, a three-judge SC bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed had ordered the demolition of the 15-storey building for encroaching on the land meant for a service road and issued its detailed order on Saturday.

The bench in its judgement said, “After examining the entire record and scrutinizing the reports submitted by all concerned agencies and departments, we are in no manner of doubt that the tower in question (Nasla Tower) has indeed been constructed on encroached land which amongst other things has also blocked a service road.”

SC issues detailed verdict in a case pertaining to construction of a 15-storey building on Sharea Faisal on encroached land

“Being illegal construction and there being no provision for compounding such illegality specially where a service road has been blocked, the same is liable to be demolished,” it added.

Removal of occupants ordered

The bench directed the Karachi commissioner to remove all persons from the building and take its possession immediately and initiate and complete the demolition process as expeditiously as possible and submit a report in court.

The judgement further said, “It is claimed that around 1957, the main road that was proposed to be 280 feet wide was realigned and as a result, its width was reduced to 240 feet and the excess 40 feet was allotted to Sindhi Muslim Cooperative Housing Society [SMCHS] through a letter by chief commissioner in December 1957.”

It further noted that the additional area was claimed to have been allotted by SMCHS to one Mustafai Begum and the area of the plot was allegedly increased from 780 square yards to 1,044 square yards and the additional area was neither incorporated in the original/amended lease nor in any subsequent lease deed.

The present owner ultimately acquired it by way of a conveyance deed executed in 2015 and initially, the plot in question was meant for residential purposes, but in 2004 the then city government through a resolution allowed conversion of all residential plots on Sharea Faisal for commercial use and in 2007 the plot was converted from residential to commercial use, it added.

The owners of the tower claimed that the additional area was allotted by SMCHS through a resolution in 2010 and the same came to be included in the total area of the plot while the mukhtiarkar in his report said that SMCHS had illegally increased the size of the plot by allotting the land reserved for the service road, the order said.

The lawyer for the builder argued that two letters were issued in 1957 by the assistant secretary to the chief commissioner, Karachi about allotment of 20-foot-wide land strip on both sides of the main Karachi-Malir Road (now Sharea Faisal) in front of the land already allotted to that society on payment of full market price.

The bench ruled that it was unable to accept the arguments to the effect of letters issued by SMCHS as such letters did not in any manner have the effect of modifying, amending or substituting lease deed executed and registered by SMCHS in favour of original allottees which lease deed constituted the basic and foundational document upon which the subsequent infrastructure of leases and conveyances had been raised.

Published in Dawn, June 20th, 2021

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