Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Gulzar Ahmed has reprimanded officials from the Defence Housing Authority (DHA) and the Cantonment Board Clifton (CBC) over their failure to stop the rise of encroachments in Karachi, directing them to demolish all illegally constructed buildings in Punjab Colony, Delhi Colony, PNT Colony and Gizri Road areas of the metropolis.
According to Daily Times, a three-member bench of the Supreme Court (SC) — headed by the CJP and comprising Justice Faisal Arab and Justice Sajjad Ali Shah — while hearing a case pertaining to encroachments in the provincial metropolis, at the apex court’s Karachi Registry on Friday issued orders to clear illegal structures built on government properties in the port city.
During the hearing, the CJP reprimanded both DHA and CBC officials over their failure to stop the rise of encroachments in Karachi, directing them to demolish all illegally constructed buildings in Punjab Colony, Delhi Colony, PNT Colony and Gizri Road areas of the metropolis.
He admonished the CBC land director for “closing his eyes when ill-gotten money was being made”, and lamented that fortunes had been amassed and now the court was being told that the buildings are illegal. “If permission is granted for ground-plus-one buildings in cantonment areas, how is it that high-rise buildings have been built in these sectors? Buildings with nine stories are being built, and they must be razed to the ground,” the CJP told the CBC.
“If an investigation is launched [into encroachments], the entire DHA would be found to be illegal. All leases will be dismissed, and hum bhi farig hojaein gay [we will be made to walk as well],” said the CJP as he himself lives in DHA. “But that does not matter, we have to live by the law.”
Addressing the attorney general, the CJP once again questioned as to who gave permission for constructing the buildings. “It’s not as if the cantonment board can go around doing as they please,” he said.
This prompted officials from the CBC to say that they have taken action against illegally-constructed buildings on several occasions. “We have given orders for razing unlawful constructions,” stated an official, adding that the laws allowed for constructing ground-plus-two buildings on residential plots and five-storey buildings on commercial plots.
The court also directed the chief secretary to get rid of all the encroachments in the city and put in a request for the re-settlement of the residents of the katchi abadis and the affected people. He also directed the officials to invite the recommendations of experts through media.
The case was later adjourned till February 21.