KARACHI, April 2: The Sindh High Court restrained two commercial banks on Wednesday from sending recovery squads to the residence of an alleged credit card defaulter and summoned their executives and the SHO concerned to answer his allegations on April 16.

Petitioner Amir Feroz submitted through Advocate Gohar Iqbal that he obtained credit cards from Citibank and Standard Chartered Bank during his employment with a private company on handsome emoluments. His employer, however, dismissed him without notice in December 2007 and his case against the verbal termination order was pending in a labour court.

Due to abrupt stoppage of salary, the petitioner said, he failed to clear his debts and other charges on time. The accumulated debt rose to about 450,000 but he informed the creditor banks of his problems and difficulties. Simultaneously, he paid substantial amounts toward repayment of the outstanding debt and proposed a settlement to discharge his liability.

However, the petitioner further alleged, the banks started sending recovery teams to his house in Zaman Town, Korangi. They shouted threats and used intimidating, insulting and humiliating language and hurt his self-respect and lowered his esteem among his neighbours. He approached the Zaman Town station house officer for protection and the banks for a reasonable settlement but there was no positive response from either.

Justices Mrs Qaiser Iqbal and Syed Mahmood Alam Rizvi, who constituted the bench seized of the petition, observed that the dignity of person and, subject to law, privacy of home were inviolable under the law and Constitution. Issuing notices to the respondents for April 16, they restrained the banks from taking coercive action against the petitioner, including dispatch of recovery teams.

Milk prices

Another division bench consisting of Justices Azizullah M. Memon and Arshad Noor Khan, meanwhile, observed that the wholesale and retail milk prices would remain unchanged at Rs32 and Rs34 per litre till further orders and the city district government would be well within its authority to enforce them.

The city district government, meanwhile, submitted a rejoinder to the petition moved by milk sellers. It said the revised new prices were fixed in consultation with all the stakeholders. The minutes of the meetings held between the CDGK officials and the stakeholders, including the petitioners, duly signed by the participants were annexed to the rejoinder. CDGK counsel Manzoor Ahmed said the CDGK cannot leave the consumers at the mercy of profiteers for an essential commodity.

Additional Advocate-General Abbas Ali said the milk was selling at Rs40 per litre and even above and there would be no end to arbitrary increase if prices were not strictly regulated and enforced.

Advocate Naeemur Rehman said he would file a reply to the counter-affidavit submitted by the CDGK. He denied that the petitioners had agreed to the retail price of Rs34. The milk sellers, he said, must be ensured a reasonable profit.

Headmistress’s safety

The bench comprising Justices Qaiser Iqbal and M.A. Rizvi, meanwhile, directed the police to provide protection to Ms Ruby Perveen, headmistress of the Government Girls Primary School, Haroon Goth, Dharo, Thatta district. She said she had long been heading the institution but the district education officials turned against her recently when she refused to misappropriate the five kilograms of cooking oil given to every girl student under a US aid programme and funds provided by the provincial government for parents’ association. She also dismissed a chowkidar who remained absent for eight months against the wished of district officials. She said she was not only transferred but demoted but she had not relinquished the charge. The ‘hirelings’ of the officials intercepted her and threatened her when she proceeded to enter the school premises.

Disposing of the petition, the bench observed that insofar as her service matters were concerned, the petitioner should approach the appropriate forum (the Sindh Service Tribunal) but the police was duty-bound to provide her safety and protection to enable her to perform her duties.

Plea dismissed

The bench consisting of Justices Qaiser Iqbal and M.A. Rizvi dismissed an intra-court appeal against the construction of Al Najeebi electronic market on Abdullah Haroon Road. A single judge had dismissed a suit instituted by Ms Tausifi Murtaza, owner of adjoining shops, against the construction of 15-storeyed market and asked the builder and the Karachi Building Control Authority to act in accordance with law.

KBCA counsel Shahid Jamil Khan submitted that the amalgamation of two plots over which the market was being built was allowed by the city government’s master plan department. The KBCA sanctioned a plan for multi-storied market in conformity with the no-objection certificate issued by the master plan department. As many as six floors had been reserved for car parking while shops would be constructed only in the basement, ground floor and first three floors.

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