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KARACHI: SC seeks report on ‘encroached’ parkland

September 23, 2008

KARACHI, Sept 22: A Supreme Court bench comprising Justices Zia Pervez and Sabihuddin Ahmed asked the Karachi Building Control Authority on Monday to submit a comprehensive report on the state of two-and-a-half-acre park on M.A. Jinnah Road, which had almost entirely been encroached upon.

The bench was hearing an appeal against a Sindh High Court judgment allowing construction of an information technology centre on 500-square-yard piece of the park known as Baloch Park and situated in front of the Jamia Cloth Maket on M.A. Jinnah Road. The respondent city district government submitted before an SHC division bench that the park had been encroached upon since the days of partition. Most of the encroachers have set up workshops on what was once an amenity plot. The CDGK has saved 500 square yards of the park for public use as an IT centre. The project had been completed with funds provided by the federal government. The SHC dismissed the petition against the IT Centre and the petitioner preferred an appeal.

The SC bench observed that an amenity plot, particularly a park in a congested area, could not be put to another use. It asked the KBCA to submit a detailed report with the assistance of local municipal authorities to enable it to examine the question of restoring its status as a public park.

Order reserved

A Sindh High Court appellate bench reserved its order in appeals moved by four convicts in the gruesome murder case of an elderly couple and their young son by their daughter, her paramour and two accomplices.

Asma Nawab is alleged to have an affair with Farhan but they apprehended that they would not be allowed to marry by her father, mother and brother, Nawab Ahmad, Azra Nawab and Asif Ahmad.

Asma, Farhan, his nephew Waseem and friend Jawaid allegedly conspired to kill all three. They first drugged them and then stabbed them to death. The incident occurred at the deceased couple’s residence at Saudabad, Malir, on December 30, 1998.

The prosecution based its case on the confessional statement made by Asma on Dec 31, 1998, and subsequent recoveries made on the information provided by other accused. A blood-stained knife, the weapon of offence, and a pistol were among the recoveries made by police. The case was tried by an anti-terrorism court, which convicted all four accused in 2001. Asma, Farhan and Jawaid were sentenced to death while Waseem was handed down hard labour for 10 years. Waseem was released after he served out his sentence.

Advocates A.Q. Halepota, Iqtidar Ali Hashmi, Waqar Shah and Javed Akhtar appeared for Farhan, Asma, Jawaid and Waseem, respectively. They argued that there material irregularities in the recording of confessional statements and the prosecution had failed to prove its case beyond a reasonable shadow of doubt. No conviction and sentence could be based on flawed confessions and the appellants deserved to be acquitted.

Defending the impugned judgment, Assistant Advocate-General Saifullah argued that the confessions were recorded and recoveries were in accordance with the law and there was no infirmity in the judgment warranting its reversal.

KBCA committee

The Sindh High Court asked a petitioner on Monday to approach the newly-constituted inquiry committee set up by the Karachi Building Control Authority to redress public grievances.

The petitioner had challenged the construction of seven-floor building on a plot meant for a three-storeyed structure. The builder obtained approval for a ground-plus-two-floor building but raised four additional floors in violation of the law, rules and sanctioned plan. The court passed a demolition order but the KBCA expressed its inability saying that the offending building had been occupied by individual purchasers of flats in the meantime. It required police assistance besides the co-operation of public utilities which sanctioned connections to the building without ensuring whether it had been constructed in accordance with the regulations.

KBCA counsel Shahid Jamil Khan informed a division bench comprising Justices Munib Ahmed Khan and Rana Mohammad Shamim that the authority had set up a committee headed by the chief controller of buildings to entertain and probe public complaints. The issue raised in the petition may be referred to the panel for a settlement. The bench asked the petitioner to approach the committee within a month.

Shirazis’ bail pleas

Justice Khwaja Naveed Ahmed, meanwhile, adjourned the bail petitions of opposition MNA Ijaz Shirazi and his MPA sons, Ayaz Shirazi and Riaz Shirazi. The applicants submitted that ever since the induction of new government they were being implicated in false cases and inquiries. They said they apprehended their arrest as part of political victimization by their electoral rivals.

Justice Mohammad Athar Saeed, meanwhile, granted bail to Amanullah, accused in a dacoity case, in the sum of Rs100,000. The applicant submitted that no charge had been framed against him even after a lapse of two years.

Justice Munib Ahmed Khan admitted a co-accused in a murder case to bail. The applicant submitted that Ramzan, the principal accused in the case, is alleged to have fired the bullet that killed Khan Mohammad. A subsidiary role had been assigned to him and he had been pursuing his defence in the court. There was no likelihood of his evading the trial, he said.

Plea dismissed

A division bench dismissed a petition moved the Pakistan Agricultural Supply and Storage Corporation against the imposition of a property tax on its godowns and other buildings in Korangi. The corporation said it was working on behalf of the federal government in a vital sector and was not a commercial organization. Opposing the plea, Assistant Advocate-General Adnan Karim Memon submitted that the issue raised by the petitioner had been finally settled by the Supreme Court in identical cases filed by the Pakistan Telecommunication Company and other federally-managed corporations.

Order reserved

Justice Khwaja Naveed Ahmed, meanwhile, reserved his order on a provincial government plea for review of his order directing the land committee to decide a case involving allotment of 36 acres of land in Scheme 33 (Gulistan-i-Jauhar) to Ms Musarrat Nazir.

Appearing for the government, Assistant Advocate-General Adnan Karim Memon submitted that the allotment order of 1996 carried a faked signature of the then chief minister, Syed Abdullah Shah. It was not a matter that fell within the purview of the land committee, which mostly considered cases pertaining to non-payment of a differential price.