CAA barred from running wedding halls on Karachi airport premises

Published October 27, 2021
A file view of the Supreme Court Karachi registry. — Dawn
A file view of the Supreme Court Karachi registry. — Dawn

KARACHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed the director general of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to appear before it along with details of alleged allotment of a piece of land near Karachi airport to private persons by the Sindh Board of Revenue (BoR) despite the fact that it was earlier allotted to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) for building a new terminal.

While expressing resentment over the CAA for running wedding halls on its premises near the airport, a three-judge SC bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed also restrained the aviation regulator from using its land at Karachi and all other airports of the country for commercial purposes.

The bench made it clear that the CAA must not use its land other than the airport and allied services.

CAA Director General Khaqan Murtaza appeared before the bench hearing a petition against alleged allotment of the authority’s land to private person by BoR.

SC questions how can BoR allotted land for new terminal to private parties

He submitted that the land measuring 209 acres allotted to the CAA in 1992 for setting up a new terminal, but the BoR had illegally allotted it to private persons by bifurcating it into plots.

He further submitted that the CAA had referred the matter to the FIA as some officials of the CAA were also involved in illegal allotments and the agency found allotment documents fake and forged.

About the joint survey of the land in question carried out on the directive of the Public Accounts Committee, he maintained that the BoR had not provided them the copy of the survey.

Regarding a new survey, Justice Ahsan asked the BoR that who had ordered the second survey and whether BoR was curving out fake plots on the pretext of the new survey.

He also questioned as to how the SRB allotted a piece of land belonged to the federal government to private persons.

Senior Member BoR Shamsuddin Soomro submitted that the land in question was not alloted to the CAA as per market value. Upon which, the CJP asked which land the provincial authorities had allotted on the basis of its per market value.

The CAA chief submitted contended that the BoR illegally allotted the land located within the boundary of the CAA to private persons.

During the proceedings, the CJP berated the CAA chief for running marriage halls on the premises of the airport.

DG Murtaza submitted that the CAA law stated that authority’s land could be used for revenue generation.

At this, the CJP asked him to quit the aviation industry and start the business of holding weddings. Upon which, Mr Murtaza said that the CAA was ready to shut the marriage halls if the court directed it to do so.

While responding to another question of the CJP about thin activities at the airport, the CAA chief submitted that international flights had been decreased, but still 60 to 80 flights were landing at Karachi airport on a daily basis.

Commercial activities at Askari Park

The bench issued notices to the authorities concerned on an application against using Askari Park near old Sabzi Mandi for commercial purposes.

Applicant Naveed Khan stated that the land of the park belonged to the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) and an agreement for its adoption was made between the then city district government Karachi and military authorities in 2005 for development and maintenance of the park.

However, he said that wedding halls and other commercial activities were being carried out on the premises of the park.

The bench issued notices to the Karachi commissioner, commander engineer Corps-V and others for the next hearing.

Grid station on greenbelt

The bench also issued notices to the K-Electric, PECH Society and others as the power utility apparently set up a grid station on the greenbelt in Block 6 of PECHS.

Six petitioners approached the apex court against the KE, but the bench noted that their addresses mentioned in the petition also shown that they were also residing on the land of the greenbelt.

The bench noted that allotment of the land to KE for setting up a grid station was apparently not in accordance with the law as the land in question was meant for amenity/park purpose.

It further said that the petitioners did not come to the court with clean hands as they were also apparently residing on the same land.

The court put them as well as others occupying the greenbelt on notice.

Published in Dawn, October 27th, 2021

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