KARACHI: The Supreme Court on Monday expressed resentment towards government authorities for an inordinate delay in a case pending before the apex court for the past 14 years and directed the Karachi Development Authority (KDA) to engage a counsel to plead the case.

The court also issued notices to the KMC, master plan department, Cantonment Board Clifton (CBC) and other respondents in a petition filed in 2020 against the commercialisation of a Clifton Road.

A three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Qazi Faez Isa and comprising Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail and Justice Naeem Akhtar Afghan, also sought suggestions from some senior lawyers about the time period to file appeals in the Supreme Court against the orders of the high courts.

About commercialisation of a thoroughfare and unauthorised construction of a high-rise building, the CJP remarked that the court was aware of unauthorised and illegal activities being carried out in the provincial metropolis.

The bench was hearing a number of cases at the Supreme Court Karachi Registry.

At the outset, the bench took up for hearing a matter filed by the then City District Government Karachi (CDGK) in 2010 against an order of the Sindh High Court about the ownership of a plot located in Clifton.

The chief justice was visibly angry when a lawyer for the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) sought time to plead the case. The CJP deplored that the matter was pending for almost 15 years, but the lawyers were not ready to proceed with it.

The chief justice summoned Karachi Mayor Murtaza Wahab and local government secretary.

Mayor Wahab appeared in court and submitted that the case was filed by the defunct CDGK and now the issues of land came within the domain of the KDA.

The director general of the KDA, Syed Shujaat Hussain, was also in attendance and he submitted that he was unaware of such matter and requested for a short adjournment.

Adjourning the case for April 26, the bench directed the KDA chief to engage a counsel and made it clear that no further adjournment would be granted in the cases of public importance.

During the hearing, the CJP also asked some senior lawyers — Dr Farogh Naseem, Barrister Salahuddin Ahmed, Khalid Jawed and Faisal Siddiqi — present during the proceedings regarding the time period to file appeals in the apex court against the orders of high courts.

They said that a five-member bench of the apex court had passed an order on the subject matter, but the same had a limited scope and suggested that it can be taken up for reconsideration on the administrative side.

Commercialisation of road

The bench also issued notices to the KMC, master plan department, CBC and other respondents in a petition filed in 2020 against the commercialisation of Chaudhry Khaliquzzaman Road and subsequent construction of high-rises.

The petitioner’s lawyer submitted that high-rises were being built after the commercialisation of the road which, he claimed, could not be commercialised under the relevant laws.

Referring to the construction of a 22-storey building apparently built without proper documentation, the CJP remarked that they would not go into it at the moment, but were aware of the unauthorised and illegal activities being carried out in the city.

A counsel for one of the respondents /builder argued that amalgamation and commercialisation fee in respect of the entire land was paid to the relevant departments.

But the lawyer for the petitioners contended that the same was not established. Thereafter, the lawyer for the builder submitted that if permitted he would file the proof of such payment.

Putting the respondents on notice, the apex court directed them to files comments/replies till April 25.

Plea against auction of land dismissed

The bench also dismissed a review application of a private contractor filed against the auction of a piece of land in Paposh Nagar as the provincial government submitted that it was planning to set up a bus terminal on the subject land.

The chief justice remarked that the subject amenity plot belonged to the people of Karachi and the land could only be used for public services.

He also said that it was the prerogative of the government to recall the auction, but it was good if the government was utilising such land for public services.

The lawyer for the petitioner stated that the petitioner had offered the highest bid and also paid 25 per cent of total amount.

A law officer of the Sindh transport department stated that the government was planning to build a bus terminal on the subject land.

Plea of FBR rejected

The apex court on Monday also turned down an application filed by the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) seeking a review of an earlier order of apex court against the award of a contract to a firm for tracking and monitoring of imported cargo.

In 2022, while dismissing an appeal of the FBR against an order of the SHC, the Supreme Court had directed the federal government to initiate an inquiry into identifying officers of the FBR responsible for awarding a contract to the NLC Construction Solutions (Pvt) Ltd for tracking and monitoring of imported cargo in real time in the Afghanistan transit trade.

The chief justice expressed resentment against the FBR chairman for filing a review application in order to protect the officers responsible for selecting an unqualified and inexperienced firm to award the contract.

He also asked court office to send this order to the ministry of finance and FBR members.

Published in Dawn, April 23nd, 2024



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