\KARACHI: While expressing surprise over city’s housing societies working under federal organisations for misusing public spaces, the Supreme Court has observed that the land meant for amenity purposes cannot be allotted for commercial and residential purposes.
It directed the ministry of housing and works to file a comprehensive report in this regard.
A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed ordered that no marriage function and parking of vehicles would be allowed on two plots apparently meant for amenity purposes in the Karachi Cooperative Housing Society (KCHS).
The bench also restrained all parties not to create a third-party interest in a multi-storey building reportedly built on parkland in Bahadur Yar Jang Cooperative Housing Society till further order.
The CJP also came down hard on the president of the Pakistan Employees Cooperative Housing Society (PECHS) during hearing of a matter about allotment of green belt to K-Electric for setting up a grid station and warned that he could be sent to prison for leasing out public spaces to private persons.
The court observed that the PECHS administration had also leased out the land of Kidney Hill Park for residential and commercial purposes.
Housing ministry has no power to change original land use status
In its written order issued on Saturday about the hearing held on Friday, the apex court directed housing and works secretary Imran Zaib to come up with a comprehensive report about allotment of land meant for park, playgrounds and other amenity purposes to private persons for commercial and residential purposes in such societies.
During the proceedings, the secretary conceded that the ministry had no power or authority to change the original land use in the layout plan of housing societies operating under its domain.
The bench was informed that two plots measuring 11,780 and 11,660 square yards in KCHS on main Tipu Sultan Road were actually meant for amenity purposes, but one of the plots was illegally bifurcated into small plots and some of them allotted to one Junaid Makda, who was reportedly running wedding halls and parking lot on it.
The bench observed that such allotment appeared to have been made by the ministry of housing and works. However, Mr Zaib, present in court, submitted that the ministry did not make any such lease/allotment.
The bench in its order said that apparently both plots were specifically meant for amenity purposes, but incidentally the office-bearers of the society not only mismanaged the amenity plots but also tried to create interests of individual persons through a factious Al-Riaz Cooperative Society.
It further noted that the original layout plan appeared to be tampered with by the officer-bearers of the society, which was illegal as a layout plan once prepared and amenities were provided, such amenities cannot be removed or altered/converted into private buildings for commercial use.
The bench observed that the matter required further clarification as the housing and works secretary stated that he would place on record complete details of such plots and also took stand that the ministry had no authority to change original land use in the layout plan.
The lawyer for the society submitted that both the plots were meant of amenity purposes and all purported allotments and leases may be cancelled. The bench allowed the secretary to file a report in a month and also granted similar time to Mr Makda to file documents.
However, it ordered the officer-bearers of the society to ensure that no marriage functions and parking spaces would take place on such plots.
The bench was further informed that a plot measuring 3,931 square yards and meant for a family park in Bahadur Yar Jang Cooperative Housing Society had been bifurcated into three plots and only a small portion of the plot was left for the park. The other two plots had been allotted and a huge building known as Al-Bari Towers built on one such plot, it added.
Senior lawyer Rasheed A. Razvi appeared on the behalf of builder of Al-Bari Towers and requested for time to file a concise statement upon which the bench allowed him one-month time.
Published in Dawn, November 28th, 2021