ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court stopped demolition of a dharamshala (a building devoted to religious or charitable purposes, especially a rest house for travelers) in Karachi and ordered the commissioner Karachi to take over the building and not to allow any person to enter the building and remove demolished material.
A three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed, passed the order in response to a petition of Dr Ramesh Kumar, co-opted Member of the one-man Commission.
According to the SC order uploaded on its website, notice was issued to the secretary Heritage, Government of Sindh to file its report regarding the building.
The court ordered; "No demolition activity of the dharamshala shall be conducted by anyone and possession of the building and the land shall be taken over by the Commissioner Karachi, who shall manage the same and not allow any person to enter upon it. No demolished material shall be allowed to be removed."
The commissioner Karachi was directed to file a report.
The SC office ordered to communicate this order to the commissioner Karachi.
He told the court that the property on plot no32, NP-04 Napier Quarters Saddar Town-I, Karachi, measuring about 716 sq yards was a dharamshala.
He also placed before the court the photographs of the building, which is being demolished to make way for a new construction of a commercial plaza.
He said that this property has been leased out by the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) to some private person and he is in the process of demolishing the dharamshala and raising of a new building.
The chairman ETPB said the Sindh High Court (SHC) had decided the matter regarding the dharamshala, where it allowed the Board to lease it out, have it demolished and raise new construction.
As the high court order was not before the bench; therefore, it ordered the counsel to provide it.
The chief justice noticed that the photograph apparently shows that the building is of a dharamshala constructed in 1932, which can be read from the marble slab affixed on the building and must be a protected heritage building.
Regarding fund to one-man commission, the bench directed the authorities to disburse Rs14.994 million to the Commission. About allocation of a new budget, the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony ordered to file a reply.
The one-man Commission has filed this application with the prayer that the allocation of funds be made to it because earlier funds of Rs7 million allocated to it vide order dated 19.02.2020, have already been spent and rather some liabilities have also accrued.
In the application, the Commission has prayed for grant of an amount of Rs14.994 million for clearance of outstanding liabilities and also for allocation of budget for the year 2021-2022.
Notice of this application be issued to the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony and also to the Attorney General for Pakistan. The case was adjourned to a date after the summer vacation.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021