- SC orders FIRs against responsible officials
- Attachment of plot ordered to ensure compensation
- SBCA chief issued show-cause notice
- Tejori Heights builders told to pay Rs2.5m
KARACHI: The Supreme Court on Monday directed the Karachi commissioner to complete the demolition process of the 15-storey Nasla Tower within a week and also asked the official assignee to attach the land in order to compensate the affected residents as the builders did not come forward to refund their money.
Besides taking a departmental action, the apex court also ordered police and Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE) to separately register cases against owners of the building, officials concerned of the Sindh Building Control Authority (SBCA), Sindhi Muslim Cooperative Housing Society and other government departments for giving approval of such a construction in violation of the law.
A two-judge SC bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed came down hard on the SBCA after the commissioner complained that the authority was trying to stop the demolition work and allegedly demanding a bribe from the contractor.
The apex court ordered the authorities to lodge an FIR against SBCA officials including its director general.
Attorney General of Pakistan Khaild Jawed Khan pointed out during the proceedings that compensation had not been paid to the affectees by the builders and suggested attachment of the allotted portion of the plot to recover the amount.
At the outset, Commissioner Iqbal Memon submitted that top five floors of Nasla Tower had been demolished and work to raze remaining floors was under way.
Responding to a question of the court, he submitted that the five floors had been internally removed and only the outer structure was standing.
The bench, also comprising Justice Qazi Mohammad Amin Ahmed, berated the commissioner for not completing the demolition process despite the passage of sufficient time and with the strength of around 400 workers.
The commissioner in his report stated that the SBCA had attempted to stop the demolition process and demanded a bribe from the contractor tasked to demolish the building.
The report maintained that the Association of Builders and Developers of Pakistan (Abad) and other people including a TV reporter had also attempted to disturb the work, but they could not be able to enter the premises as they were dealt in a civilised manner while Section 144 of the criminal procedure code had already been in place.
The bench observed that any move to stop or disrupt the demolition work was amount to contempt of court and directed the commissioner to get the assistance of law enforcement agencies and complete the process in one week and file a compliance report.
When the bench confronted the DG-SBCA for creating obstructions, he denied the allegations and questioned the credibility of the report.
However, the bench said that there was a written proof and it had made itself liable to be proceeded for commission of contempt of court and issued a show-cause notice to SBCA chief as to why contempt of court proceeding may not be initiated against him.
The court also directed the ACE to register a case against the DG and others for allegedly demanding a bribe.
The bench ordered the official assignee of the Sindh High Court to attach a portion of allotted plot measuring 780 square yards in order to compensate the affectees as the builders had not come forward for making payment and it seemed that they would not refund the residents’ money.
It further observed that the SBCA officials had violated the law and each and every official involved was liable to be not only faced departmental inquiry but also booked under the Pakistan Penal Code and Prevention of Corruption Act.
Thus, two separate FIRs be lodged against such SBCA officials and other government officials concerned at the ACE and police station concerned, the court said and directed the ACE and the DIG-Ear to file compliance reports in one week.
Initially, the apex court had ordered the demolition of the building in June for partly encroaching upon the land meant for a service road and directed the builders to refund the amount to the allotttees within three months.
In September the review petition of the builders of Nasla Tower against the June 16 order was also turned down.
The apex court also directed the Karachi commissioner to demolish and remove the basement/foundation of Tejori Heights and the cost would be borne by the builders.
It observed that the main structure of the building had been demolished, but the structure of basement was till there as the builders seemed to be reluctant to remove the same.
The bench sought a compliance report from the commissioner in one week and also asked the builders to provide Rs2.5 million to the commissioner in two days.
The demolished building was located near the abandoned Gilani railway station of the Karachi Circular Railway in Block 13-D, Gulshan-i-Iqbal and Pakistan Railways had claimed that the subject land had been allotted to it for KCR and the same had been encroached upon by the builders.
In October, the Supreme Court had ordered its demolition by observing that the counsel for builders of Tejori Heights remained unable to establish the ownership of the land being used for the construction of building on the plot.
Published in Dawn, December 28th, 2021