Sindh to challenge Mohatta Palace order, SHC told

Published November 4, 2021
A file photo of the Mohatta Palace. — White Star
A file photo of the Mohatta Palace. — White Star

KARACHI: A provincial law officer on Wednesday informed the Sindh High Court that the government was going to challenge an SHC order to establish a medical college on the premises of Mohatta Palace.

A single-judge bench of SHC headed by Justice Syed Hasan Azhar Rizvi took up an application of the plaintiff seeking urgent hearing of a suit filed in 1971 regarding Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah’s heritage property located in Clifton.

The lawyer informed the bench that the suit was lastly fixed for hearing on Nov 1, before the single-judge bench headed by Justice Zulfiqar Ahmad Khan, but the same was discharged as Justice Khan was sitting in a division bench.

Justice Rizvi allowed the urgent application and said that the suit was antedated and to be fixed on Nov 16 before the bench of Justice Khan, who had heard all parties and passed the earlier order with their consent.

During the hearing, an additional advocate general (AAG) was of the view that Sindh government was filing an intra-court appeal against the Oct 13 order of the single-judge bench.

Meanwhile, a statement issued by trustee Abdul Hamid Akhund, designated focal person by board of trustees of the Mohatta Palace Museum, said that besides the provincial government, the trustees would also be filing an appeal against the last month’s SHC order.

The Mohatta Palace Museum Gallery Trust in the interest of justice has requested the SHC to allow it to become interveners as the order passed in the case would directly affect the interest of the gallery, the statement added.

It further said that the building had always been a protected heritage monument and it remained so and not a commercial property, adding that an AAG gave inadvertent consent for which he had no authority and without consulting the government and examining the record.

“The issue is a legal one among the relatives of Mohtarma Fatima and Shireen Jinnah of the immovable and movable properties and Mohatta Palace ceased to be their property once it was sold under the orders of the SHC,” it added.

It said neither the federal government nor the Mohatta Palace Museum were cited as respondents or put on notice.

It said that the heritage building was purchased on the order of SHC in 1994 with the consent of all the parties and the entire amount of Rs61.8 million was deposited in SHC.

It was a judicial sale and the palace was handed over to the representatives of the federal and Sindh governments in the presence of the Sindh governor as per court order by the nazir of SHC, it maintained.

The statement further said that the amount was paid by the government, a major share coming from the federal government, pursuant to the prime minister’s directive the Mohatta Palace Gallery Trust was formed and the terms of the trust were to ensure that the property cannot be sold, commercialised or used for any other purpose other than functioning as a gallery/ museum / cultural complex.

Published in Dawn, November 4th, 2021

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