KARACHI: The Supreme Court on Thursday sought a report from the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) chairman in a matter pertaining to illegal allotment of a park’s land, in the Al-Habib Cooperative Housing Society, KDA Scheme 33, to some private persons and directed him to look into the conduct of the investigating officer (IO) in the case.
A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed also directed the NAB chief to take disciplinary action against the IO and also compensate the affected people after recovering their money from the accused persons.
It also observed that the IO, Ausaf Talpur, appeared unaware of the matter and could not answer numerous questions asked by the bench which were about basic information.
Justice Ijaz Ul Ahsan and Justice Qazi Mohammad Amin Ahmed are the other members of the bench.
The NAB prosecutor submitted that a reference had already been filed in an accountability court in Karachi against five accused persons. Three of them had obtained their pre-arrest bail, he added.
It noted that the IO claimed to have been handling around 100 other cases but he appeared to be not in much confidence. It directed the NAB chief to appoint proper IOs for such investigations or inquires.
Expeditious demolition of Nasla Tower also ordered
The bench observed that the case in question was 11 years old and the courts had also passed orders, but nothing had been achieved so far. It directed the registrar and administrator of the cooperative societies department to ensure that the allotment of all 32 plots carved out from the park’s land be canceled as soon as possible.
The CJP expressed his surprise over the fact that the IO was even unaware of the status of their bail and also made no efforts to arrest the accused. Apparently he was allowing them to approach the court for bail. Besides, the NAB authorities also made no efforts to file an application in the court for the cancellation of the bail, he observed.
A complaint was filed in the apex court in 2011 seeking action against over encroachment of the public park. The court was informed that the secretary, Athar Alam, along with other office-bearers of the society, allegedly encroached upon the park, converted its status to residential and sold them to the public while he and the co-accused also allegedly built warehouses on the amenity plot.
Hearing another case, the bench expressed its resentment over failure of senior member of Board of Revenue (BoR), Sindh, to comply with its orders to retrieve government lands, and directed him again to remove all encroachments and file a compliance report within one month.
The bench rejected a report field by the BoR member Shamsuddin Soomro as unsatisfactory, and observed that it had issued several orders from time to time for the removal of encroachments from the land meant for parks, playgrounds and other amenity purpose but his conduct appeared defiant.
The bench observed that there was nothing in the report except for constitution of a committee.
The bench deplored that more than 50pc of state lands had been encroached upon in Sindh but the BoR was doing nothing despite issuance of several court orders in this regard.
The CJP said that deputy commissioners were also doing nothing in this regard, and remarked that instead of implementing court orders, officials were extorting money and allowing new constructions on the state lands.
Justice Ashan asked Mr Soomro whether he was facing resistance or someone was preventing him from implementing the court orders.
Advocate general Salman Talibuddin requested the bench to grant some time to the senior BoR member for compliance.
The bench granted Mr Soomro one month’s time.
Healthcare facilities in Tharparkar
Taking up the matter of healthcare situation in Tharparkar, the bench came down hard on the provincial government for not making any efforts to implement its earlier orders regarding provision of health and other basic facilities to the people of this district.
The health secretary health assured the bench that he would take all relevant measures by establishing hospitals, dispensaries and other health facilities in different parts of Tharparkar and ensure provision of staff and modern equipment, including operating theatres.
The bench said that all posts of doctors and paramedics be filed immediately. It said transfer of severing medical officers and staff in Tharparakar to other districts should not be allowed until three years. It directed the health secretary to file compliance report within one month.
The bench was hearing a matter pertaining to the death of five infants at the Mithi Civil Hospital in 2017.
KE grid station
Hearing a petition regarding a K-Electric grid station built on a greenbelt in PECHS Block 6, the bench said that it would not allow the KE to run it, but could grant some time to move it to some other place.
The CJP noted that the land in question was meant for amenity purpose.
The CJP, taking up the case of Hindu Gymkhana, expressed his disappointment over Karachi commissioner’s failure in filing a compliance report on its order to provide an alternative accommodation to the National Academy of Performing Arts (Napa).
He directed the advocate general to look into the matter and come up with suggestions/proposals from Sindh government in this regard.
A petition was filed by Shree Ratneshwar Mahadev Welfare in 2014 submitting in court that the gymkhana belonged to the Hindu community since before partition but government had taken it over as an evacuee property after the partition.
Nasla Tower demolition
Meanwhile, the bench in its written order directed the Karachi commissioner to expeditiously demolish the 15-storey Nasla Tower and submit compliance report in the next session.
The order was passed during a hearing of the case on Wednesday.
The bench found the commissioner’s report on the progress of demolition work altogether unsatisfactory.
Rejecting the report, the bench directed the commissioner to immediately start the demolition work and “achieve the total demolition thereof and clearance of malba as soon as possible”.
The order noted that on Oct 25, the commissioner was directed to complete demolition of the building within one week from Oct 27, but he had not complied with the orders and, rather, taken a stance to defy them.
“The court shall take action against the commissioner, Karachi for defiance of the court’s orders. The commissioner, Karachi shall ensure that compliance of the court’s orders is made,” it concluded.
Published in Dawn, November 26th, 2021