ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Tuesday issued a stay order against the demolition of katchi abadis in the federal capital, observing that the working class living in slums was not being treated at a par with those for whom the government introduced housing schemes from time to time.

IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah was hearing a petition filed by a slum dweller against the ongoing operation of the Capital Development Authority (CDA).

The petitioner challenged CDA’s notice of August 2 and contended before the court that he had been residing in the katchi abadi for over four decades.

He accused the civic agency of adopting a discriminatory and pick-and-choose policy by issuing notices to some and excluding others in the anti-encroachment operation.

Govt asked to explain why slum dwellers not eligible for allotment of state land

Justice Minallah observed that the katchi abadis had been in existence for the last four decades and the inhabitants belonged to the most marginalised sections of society.

The court allowed impleading the Federal Government Employees Housing Foundation (FGEHF) as a respondent in the petition and ordered its director general and the CDA chairman to submit a report, explaining why the working class living in the katchi abadis was not eligible to be allotted land like those who benefited from allotment of state land.

“They shall also explain why land cannot be acquired and developed for the working classes who have been living in the katchi abadis since decades. They shall also explain whether denial of benefits to the working classes and other marginalized classes of the society, which are available to a few privileged classes does not breach the fundamental rights,” the court order read.

The court also directed the secretary housing and works to submit a report regarding the policy of the federal government on the rights of working people who have been living in the katchi abadis for decades, particularly in the light of the National Housing Policy 2011.

Justice Minallah issued notice to the attorney general and appointed Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) vice chairman Khushdil Khan, senior lawyers Abid Hassan Minto, Abid Saqi and Omer Ijaz Gillani as amici curiae in this matter.

Further hearing has been adjourned till August 25 and the court directed the CDA not to demolish the katchi abadis till the next hearing.

Meanwhile, a private housing society has challenged the recent election of its management committee accusing the district administration of ‘manipulating’ the results.

According to the petition, the elections for the management committee of the Ministry of Commerce Employees Housing Society were held on August 7.

The petitioner, Atif Butt, claimed that total 919 voters casted their votes, among them three votes were rejected and three ballot papers went missing.

However, the results showed that 1,107 votes were polled and it was because of the negligence of officials of the district administration deputed on the election duty.

He stated that in order to manipulate the elections, the rival party used police and the district administration.

According to him, the candidates facing corruption references in the accountability courts were allowed to contest the elections.

Published in Dawn, August 11th, 2021

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