KARACHI: A lawyer representing the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation on Wednesday informed the Sindh High Court that the concrete structure being built around Frere Hall Gardens was part of a beautification exercise.

On June 20, a single bench of SHC had ordered immediate demolition of concrete structures being erected at the iconic building on a lawsuit filed by architect Marvi Mazhar, issued a show-cause notice to the administrator and also suspended through an interim order his intrusion in any heritage building or site.

The KMC and Karachi administrator filed an appeal against the interim order of the single-judge bench before the division bench headed by Justice Mohammad Junaid Ghaffar.

Representing the appellants, Advocate Umer Lakhani argued that through the impugned order the single-judge bench had passed a mandatory injunction without notice for demolition of the concrete structure, which was part of some beautification exercise being carried out by the KMC.

He submitted that as per settled law the injunction could have only been done after due notice.

He submitted that an arch was being raised by the KMC for the purpose of beautification, whereas not only an order for demolition has been passed ex-parte, but also a show-cause notice to the administrator with a further restraining order against him in regarding all heritage sites/buildings in Karachi

The counsel further submitted that since the administrator had not violated any court order, hence no occasion had arisen to show cause him.

He argued that the relief granted in the impugned order was never pleaded by the plaintiff in the lawsuit and now contempt proceedings had been initiated and hence, urgency and this high court appeal were filed.

The lawyer for plaintiff, Advocate Jibran Nasir, has affected appearance on behalf of Ms Mazhar, waives notice and sought copies of the memo of appeal and its annexure while lawyer for the appellants undertook to supply the same during the course of the day.

The two-judge bench in its order said, “Notice to remaining respondents as well as Advocate General Sindh for 15.07.2022. Till then, the appellants shall maintain status quo in respect of the construction being raised, whereas, no further demolition exercise shall be carried out as directed in the impugned order. Insofar as order for issuance of show cause notice and a restraining/suspension order against appellant No.2 in any heritage building or site is concerned, the same shall also remain suspended till the next date”.

Ms Mazhar in her suit had contended that the act of KMC and other defendants to construct concrete gates on all the three roads was the violation of the Rule 8(1) of the Sindh Cultural Heritage Property (Identification, Enlistment and Protection) Rules, 2017 introduced through Sindh Cultural Heritage (Preservation) Act, 1994.

She stated that the act was in continuation of the KMC’s attempt to privatise and gentrify the site, which was in existence for the last 160 years, cherished by everyone living within four corners of the city.

Published in Dawn, June 23rd, 2022

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