ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Wednesday suspended the Jan 11 Islamabad High Court (IHC) judgement of sealing and taking over possession of the Monal Restaurant, situated at the picturesque Margalla Hills.

“The unsigned order of the IHC will remain suspended,” ordered a three-judge Supreme Court bench headed by Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan. Consequently the Monal Restaurant will be de-sealed.

The court which had taken up the appeal of Monal Group of Companies however wondered why no action was taken against other 13 restaurants situated at the close proximity of the Monal Restaurant like the La-Montana, Gloria Jeans, etc., and why Monal was discriminated against only and on what basis its possession was taken over without the certified copy of the high court.

On Jan 11, the high court had ordered the Capital Development Authority (CDA) and the Wild Life Management Board (IWMB) to take over forthwith the possession of the Monal Restaurant and seal its premises subject to allowing its owner/management to take out its property.

The high court had also held that the lease agreement of Monal Restaurant with the CDA had expired and its agreement on Sept 30, 2019 with the Remount, Veterinary and Farms Directorate was void and without any legal effect.

Senior counsel Makhdoom Ali Khan representing the Monal Group of Companies regretted before the court that no certified copy of the Jan 11 short order of the high court was available still besides the intra court appeal was fixed twice but the hearing was postponed without any reason.

Senior counsel Ahmer Bilal Soofi representing the IWMB however told the court that show-cause notices have been issued to other restaurants also.

The court, however, was surprised over the way the possession of the restaurant was taken over in haste without any written order of the high court also wondering how many restaurants on the Margalla Hills have been sealed.

During the hearing the court also expressed its displeasure over IWMB chairman Rana Ahmed who tried to disturb the proceedings of the court.

Earlier the apex court had issued notices to the federal government as well as other respondents namely CDA, Metropolitan Corporation of Islamabad, Remount Veterniary and Farms (RVF) Directorate through Secretary Defence and Director General RVF General Headquarters (GHQ).

In its appeal the Monal Group had pleaded before the apex court that the high court while exercising suo motu powers had ordered the CDA chairman and the IWMB to take over the possession of the Monal Restaurant and seal the premises when none of the parties had sought such a direction and thus seriously prejudicing the fundamental rights of the petitioner.

The petition moved by the petitioner contended that the Monal Group of Companies employed 650 employees and as a result of the high court order, the employees and their families were suffering.

Published in Dawn, March 9th, 2022

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