ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday allowed the Capital Development Authority (CDA) to resume work on the construction of the Bhara Kahu bypass project on the land of the Quaid-i-Azam University after it dismissed multiple petitions submitted by the faculty members and the administration against the scheme.
IHC Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb issued a short order. “For detailed reasons to be recorded later, the instant writ petition, as well as the connected writ petitions i.e. W.P. No.4077/2022, W.P. No.4371/2022 and W.P. No.4543/2022, are dismissed,” declared the IHC judge. Justice Aurangzeb reserved the judgement on these petitions last week.
Kashif Ali Malik, advocate representing the five faculty members of the QAU, told Dawn that an appeal against the order would be filed at an appropriate forum after the perusal of the order of the single-member bench.
During the course of arguments, he contended that the university’s syndicate was holding the land as a trustee on behalf of the students, faculty and future generations, and the same attracts the duties and obligations of a fiduciary. The land in question has been earmarked for the construction of a project of Earth Sciences under China Pakistan Economic Corridor, the lawyer said.
Three pleas against project dismissed; petitioners’ counsel says decision to be challenged after perusal
In this particular case, the syndicate did not examine the proposed scheme, invite any objections, conduct a study, or for that matter check the feasibility of the alternate, he added.
The counsel argued that while exercising the authority in relation to disposition of property vested in the syndicate, the highest standards of transparency must be ensured, otherwise, it would be tantamount to a breach of fiduciary duty as the trustee, he argued.
He pointed out that in this particular case, no summary was presented to the CDA Board. No recommendations were obtained from the planning wing or for that matter the Master Plan Review Commission constituted by the federal government, he added.
Aziz Nishtar, counsel for another faculty member, told the court that he wrote a letter to the Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency (Pak-EPA) asking it to take cognisance of the project.
Justice Aurangzeb noted that the said letter had not been placed before the court and advised the counsel to seek relief from the said forum.
Last week, CDA’s counsel Hafiz Arafat Ahmed was arguing before the court that the project commenced after getting the necessary approvals. He said the Environmental Impact Assessment was done while the matter was pending before the IHC. According to him, Pak-EPA approved the EIA of the project as well.
He denied the claims of environmental degradation and chopping of trees as claimed by the petitioner — five faculty members of the QAU — and told the court that he has video footage of the site before the commencement of the project and the most recent one. Advocate Arafat argued that the faculty members trying to exploit the situation to get benefits to which the university is not entitled.
It may be noted here that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Sept 30 laid the foundation stone of the Bhara Kahu bypass and directed the National Logistics Cell (NLC) to complete the project within three months.
The 5km-long road (including a 1km flyover) will start from Murree Road near QAU stop and culminate on Murree Road near the Jugi bus stop adjacent to Punjab Cash and Carry from where a flyover will begin which will end outside Bhara Kahu bazaar towards Murree.
Published in Dawn, December 13th, 2022