KARACHI: Chief Justice of Pakistan Qazi Faez Isa is scheduled to hear on Thursday (tomorrow) a petition, filed by former Karachi nazim Naimatullah Khan in 2010, seeking apex court’s intervention to get the amenity plots vacated from “land mafia and political parties” in the city, and around 145 other related cases regarding encroachments on public spaces, illegal constructions and conversion of residential properties into commercial ones.

Led by the CJP, a three-judge SC bench comprising Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail and Justice Naeem Akhtar Afghan will hear the cases at the apex court’s Karachi Registry.

Notices have been issued to the Sindh chief minister, chief secretary and other functionaries of the provincial government, officials of cantonment boards, Karachi Port Trust, Sindh Building Control Authority, local administrations and over 100 other federal and provincial departments/officials as well as the law officers of the federal and provincial governments for April 25.

The apex court had passed several judgements and orders in the petition of the late Naimatullah Khan and other connected matters in the past, but such cases have not been fixed for hearing for over the past two years as the same were lastly heard by then chief justice Gulzar Ahmed, who hung up his robes in February 2022.

The former Karachi nazim had filed the plea in the apex court around 14 years ago, seeking help of the top court to get over 160 amenity plots vacated and, thereafter, hundreds of civil miscellaneous applications (CMAs) have been filed to either become interveners or impleading parties in the main petition.

The matters fixed for hearing on Thursday also include the issue of two private hospitals, located in Clifton, allegedly being run on amenity plots, encroachments on and around various drains of the city, restoration of Kidney Hill Park and cases regarding the Karachi Circular Railway.

The CMAs to be taken up for hearing are also about resettlement and compensation for the affectees of Gujjar, Orangi and Mehmoodabad nullahs, non-provision of water to the residents of Defence Housing Authority (DHA) through pipelines, construction on the premises of Karachi Gymkhana, suspected commercial activities at Askari Park, wedding halls on the premises of the Civil Aviation Authority office near Karachi airport and food street at Burns Road as well as cases about encroachments on amenity plots and illegal and unauthorised constructions in various parts of the city.

Plea against cancellation of land dismissed

The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed an application filed against cancellation of allotment of a 5,000-square-yard amenity plot in the city and directed the Karachi Development Authority (KDA) to file report whether the subject land could be converted into a park.

The Kanpur Old Boys Association had filed an application in 2015 against an order of the Sindh High Court regarding a dispute about the 5,000-square-yard plot located in Block-1, Scheme-36, Karachi.

The association had approached the apex court against a decision of the SHC which had accepted the local administration’s petition about the cancelation of the subject land.

The lawyer for the appellants submitted that the ombudsman had ordered the authorities to issue challan for the allotment of the subject plot and the then city district government filed an appeal against the order of the ombudsman before the Sindh governor, who had also rejected the same, while the SHC had allowed the appeal of the city government, assailing the orders of the ombudsman and governor.

A three-judge bench of the apex court, headed by CJP Isa, questioned the jurisdiction of the ombudsman for hearing and deciding such matters and observed that the counsel for applicants also could not be able to produce the relevant record in the court.

Dismissing the application, the bench asked the KDA director general (DG) whether a park could be established on the subject land. The DG replied that he had to check the status of the land in question first.

The chief justice observed that amenity land could not be used for any purpose other than public services and deplored that the KDA DG was unaware about the status of the land and had no idea about utilisation of such plot. He directed the DG to file a report about the status of the subject plot.

Published in Dawn, April 24th, 2024

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