SC orders demolition of under-construction Tejori Heights

Published October 30, 2021
A file view of the booking office for Tejori Heights, a multi-storey building in Gulshan-i-Iqbal. — Online
A file view of the booking office for Tejori Heights, a multi-storey building in Gulshan-i-Iqbal. — Online

KARACHI: After 15-storey Nasla Tower, the Supreme Court on Friday ordered demolition of an under-construction multi-storey building in Gulshan-i-Iqbal and gave the builder and authorities four weeks to implement its order.

The court directed the Karachi commissioner and builders to demolish Tejori Heights Tower after the counsel for builders could not establish the ownership of the land being used for the construction of the residential complex.

A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed and comprising Justice Ijaz Ul Ahsan and Justice Qazi Mohammad Amin Ahmed also directed the builders to refund the amount to allotttees within three months.

It also asked the commissioner to ensure that the process of demolition and removal of debris was completed within the stipulated period.

On Thursday, the bench had observed that the construction on the land was illegal as documents produced in court were manipulated and could not prove the ownership of the builders on the subject land.

Builder, commissioner given four weeks to implement order

The court was about to pass an order when senior counsel Raza Rabbani, representing the builders, sought time to consult his clients. The CJP adjourned the matter for Friday and asked the counsel to get instructions from his clients whether they were going to demolish the building on their own or the court pass an order.

When the bench took up the matter on Friday, Mr Rabbani informed it that the builders agreed to demolish the structure by themselves and sought time to remove files of the allotttees from the site office for purpose of payment of compensation.

Earlier, the bench had put several questions to the counsel regarding the documents placed before it and to justify the title of the land, but he could not come up with a satisfactory reply.

During the proceedings, it was surfaced that the land allegedly purchased by the builders related to Survey No. 190 while the project was being built on a different land located in Survey No.188. The bench had observed that till the cancelation of the sale deed of Survey 190, allotment cannot be made in Survey No 188.

Justice Ahsan had said that there should have been a fresh sale deed for new/substitute property as title cannot be transferred by rectification of general power of attorney or sale agreement.

The lawyer for Pakistan Railways, Raja Qasit Nawaz, had argued that the land in question had been allotted to the railways for the Karachi Circular Railways (KCR) and an illegal construction was being made by the builders after preparing forged documents of the land.

The under-construction building is located near the abandoned Gilani railway station of the KCR in Block 13-D, Gulshan-i-Iqbal.

In December last year, the apex court had ordered immediate suspension of work on Tejori Heights Tower and barred the builders from creating a third-party interest after observing that on the basis of documents, prima facie there was no right of Tejori Heights on the land in question and directed the commissioner of Karachi to take over the construction site till further order.

The project is owned by the Karachi Town Builders and Developers and the proprietor of the company is Javed Iqbal Qureshi, who is father-in-law of politician and businessman Kamran Tessori.

The PR had last year lodged an FIR against Tessori for allegedly encroaching upon railways land measuring 2,783 square yards.

Removal of marquees from Hindu Gymkhana ordered

The same bench directed the National Academy of Performing Arts (Napa) and authorities concerned to remove the marquees and other temporary structures within the premises of Hindu Gymkhana in two months as the same were affecting the heritage character of the building.

It also directed the culture secretary and Karachi commissioner to provide alternative accommodation to Napa, housing in the heritage building of Hindu Gymkhana.

After examining the pictures of the gymkhana, the bench noted that some of its windows at ground floor were of aluminium while the first floor of the building had wooden windows of old style and ruled that original character of the windows should be restored.

The bench also took exception to the construction of an auditorium by Napa and said that how such construction could be made on the premises of a heritage site.

The lawyer for Napa submitted that the auditorium was built behind heritage building for its activities without blocking the view, its arch and façade.

The counsel further argued that the Hindu Gymkhana premises had been given to Napa on 30-year rent lease following an agreement with the provincial culture department and litigations were pending before the Sindh High Court about an eviction notice and alleged changes affected to the building and construction.

After viewing the pictures lawyer for Napa had annexed with his pleadings the apex court observed that it did not provide a clear view of the building from all sides.

It issued directives to take pictures and make videos providing clear view of the gymkhana building and structures raised around it and present the same at the next hearing.

About relocation of Napa, the culture secretary proposed the Jinnah Cultural Complex, located in North Karachi, but counsel for Napa submitted that he was not aware of any such complex and could made a final decision after visiting it.

The bench observed that Napa should be relocated to such a place which was easily accessible and had enough space with a world class auditorium and related facilities and directed the commissioner to look for space and come up with proposals.

A petition was filed by Shree Ratneshwar Mahadev Welfare in 2014 stating that the heritage site belonged to the Hindu community of Karachi before partition as the gymkhana building was established for the promotion of social and religious activities of Hindus, but the government took it over as an evacuee trust property after partition. Therefore, the petitioner argued that directive may be issued to Napa to vacate the building and hand it over to the Hindu community.

CJP berates culture secretary

The CJP also came down hard on secretary culture department over depilated conditions of heritage buildings of the province and asked him that what his department was doing to protect and preserve such sites.

He remarked that there were countless buildings with pre-colonial and colonial era and instead of preserving the heritage sites, such buildings were being demolished and replaced with high-rising structures.

Published in Dawn, October 30th, 2021

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