KARACHI: The Sindh High Court has restrained cantonment boards across the province and their contractors from claiming and collecting parking fee of vehicles until further orders.
A petition citing the ministry of defence and all the cantonment boards of Sindh as respondents stated that these organisations could not charge parking fee in the light of a judgement of the apex court.
The petitioner’s lawyer submitted that that the Cantonment Board Clifton (CBC) had issued an advertisement in March for awarding a contract for collection of parking fee.
The counsel submitted that according to the 2015 verdict of Supreme Court in the case of Hyderabad Cantonment Board, there was no provision in the Cantonment Act, 1924 that empowers them to charge parking fee and hence such levy was without any lawful authority.
A two-judge bench headed by Justice Mohammad Shafi Siddiqui observed that the CBC had acted under the said act, but its lawyer was unable to assist the court about the law under which the advertisement was given for awarding the contract to claim parking fee.
The court will take up the matter again after summer vacations
“The respondents or any authority/nominee there under are restrained from claiming parking fee till further orders. Counsel for respondent No.2 [CBC] also seeks time to file parawise comments. Let this matter be fixed in court in the first week after summer vacations,” the court order said.
Petitioner Atta Mohammad moved the SHC stating that the controversy of parking fee within the jurisdiction of cantonment boards has already been settled by the apex court through its judgement in 2015 and had also dismissed an appeal/review petition of the Hyderabad Cantonment Board in this regard.
However, he argued that all the cantonment boards in Sindh were charging/collecting parking fee in violation of the verdicts of the Supreme Court.
The petitioner further submitted that the cantonment boards had been awarding contracts to private persons for collection of parking fee, which was also unlawful and a violation of the principle laid down by the SHC in case of Continental Biscuit Limited versus the federation in 2017.
He maintained that as per the superior judiciary, the cantonment boards cannot levy fee beyond the scope of Section 200 of the Cantonment Act and levy of the parking fee was without jurisdiction. However, despite this the CBC, HCB and Karachi Cantonment Board had framed parking by-laws in 2015, 2012 and 2018 in violation of the law and rulings of the apex and high courts.
While referring to another judgement of the SHC handed down in 2010, the petitioner argued that as per the order, authority while framing regulations cannot travel beyond the purview of the parent law or rules and maintained that the respondents had travelled beyond the parent statue.
He pleaded to declare the imposition of the parking fee and its recovery directly or indirectly by the cantonment boards in the light of the apex court and SHC verdicts without jurisdiction and unlawful.
The petitioner also asked the SHC to declare the parking by-laws and subsequent notifications/statutory regulatory orders ultra vires to the Cantonments Act.
He sought permanent injunction restraining the boards and their contractor or anybody else working for them from demanding/collecting parking fee from any person.
Published in Dawn, July 10th, 2021