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KARACHI: Supreme Court (SC) on Wednesday came hard on Sindh government after its top attorney expressed inability of the provincial government to pay funds for rehabilitation of Gujjar Nullah affectees.

At Karachi Registry, a SC bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Justice Gulzar Ahmed took up the plea filed by the Gujjar Nullah residents who had requested formation of a larger bench to hear the anti-encroachment case.

Advocate General Sindh Salman Talibuddin appeared on behalf of the provincial government, informing the court that the Sindh government was in an “extreme financial crisis”, as the federal government had not released funds that were to be given to the province.

“Then give permission to the affectees to reside in the Chief Minister House,” Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed remarked.

“You can issue the order, we will make room for these4 people at the Chief Minister House,” responded the advocate general.

When Talibuddin again informed the court that the Sindh government was short of funds, the chief justice showed his displeasure by saying: “You have done nothing in the province.”

Talibuddin told the court that when a government has limited resources, it has to deal with problems.

“You have a different set of priorities. It is not the Supreme Court’s job to assist [the Sindh government],” Justice Ijaz ul Ahsan said.

Illegal construction: SC orders demolition of residential building in Karachi

“What is the Sindh government’s annual budget,” Justice Ahsan asked. “I do not have details of that at the moment,” responded the advocate general, requesting the court for some time to get the relevant information.

“The Sindh government’s annual budget is worth several hundred billion rupees,” Justice Ahsan stated. “And you say you don’t have Rs10bn to rehabilitate the affectees?”

The chief justice ordered the advocate general to come up with a solution to rehabilitate the affectees.

“You asked us to issue orders for the Nullahs to be cleaned and we did that. Now, you’re telling us that you do not have funds,” asked Justice Ajaz ul Ahsan.

“Mr. Advocate General, the way you are talking is not the right thing,” said the chief justice.

Talibuddin urged the Supreme Court to issue orders to the federal government so that it grants the Gujjar Nullah affectees houses under the Naya Pakistan Housing Scheme.

“We have issued an order related to this,” responded the chief justice.

The Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) argued that it was the government’s responsibility to rehabilitate people whose homes were destroyed in the anti-encroachment drives and stated that federal and provincial governments have to sit together to find out the solution.

The SC bench observing that rehabilitation of the affectees is the responsibility of Sindh Government ordered Chief Minister Sindh to ensure the release of funds for rehabilitation of affctees and sought the report within two weeks in this regard.

Meanwhile, Supreme Court (SC) dismissed petitions of the owner and residents of Nasla Tower that was seeking a review of the June 16 judgment that had ordered the demolition of the 15-storey building in Sindhi Muslim Cooperative Housing Society (SMCHS)

When review petitions were taken up by a three-member SC bench headed by Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed, Advocate Muneer A Malik, counsel for the owner, pleaded that the service lane which the judgment said was blocked by the project was absolutely clear.

Malik stated the SC order says the owner had encroached land while he had possession of 1,044 square yards.

The counsel contended that it was wrongly stated in the commissioner Karachi’s report that the service lane of Shahrah-e-Faisal was blocked due construction of the tower. The counsel stated that it was the flyover constructed over Shahrah-e-Quaideen that had blocked the service lane.

Justice Ijaz reminded the counsel that the issue was not of blockade of service lane as the court had held that the Nasla Tower was constructed on “encroached land which amongst other things has also blocked a service road.”

Court dismissed the petitions and directed the commissioner to give reasonable time to petitioners for vacating the building before going ahead with its demolition.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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