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ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court said if the Islamabad High Court (IHC) did not release a detailed judgment on Monal Restaurant within two weeks then it will pass an appropriate order.

A three-judge bench, headed by Justice Ijazul Ahsan, on Thursday, heard the appeals of the federal government and the Monal Restaurant against the IHC’s interim order.

Additional Attorney General Qasim Wadood, representing the federal government, argued that the land is of the Ministry of Defence (MoD), adding the MoD was not made party in the case. The writ petition did not divulge the ownership of the land, he further contended.

Justice Muneeb Akhtar noted that still the IHC has not passed the detailed judgment of its interim order. He said they will await the final judgment on the writ petition. He noted that the suits regarding the matter are still pending before the high court.

Makhdoom Ali Khan, representing the Monal Restaurant owner, said the businesses of his client have been sealed in pursuance of the IHC, while other businesses surrounding the Monal Restaurant are allowed to work.

The IHC in its order dated January 11, 2022 directed the Capital Development Authority (CDA) to seal Monal Restaurant and also declared the military’s claim over 8,000 acres land of the park as illegal.

It ordered that the CDA and Islamabad Wildlife Management Board (IWMB) shall jointly restore the encroached land. It further said the claim of Remount, Veterinary and Farms Directorate of Pakistan Army, regarding 8,068 acres of land in the notified National Park area is in violation of the Ordinance of 1979 read with the Ordinance of 1960 and the Master Plan. The claim is also not in conformity with the enforced laws applicable to the management of lands for the use of the armed forces.

According to the court order, the federal government was bereft of jurisdiction to allow the Directorate to use 8,068 acres of land in the notified National Park area. The Directorate has no jurisdiction, or the authority to own, use or keep in possession any land within the notified National Park area.

It mentioned that the Remount, Veterinary and Farms Directorate had no jurisdiction or authority to execute the purported agreement, dated 30.09.2019 with Monal Restaurant. The rent recovered by the Directorate from Monal Restaurant was also without lawful authority and jurisdiction. The secretary, Ministry of Defence shall ensure that the rent received by the Directorate is recovered and deposited in the exchequer within 60 days from the date of the order.

It continued that the lease agreement of Monal Restaurant with the CDA had expired and its agreement, dated 30.09.2019 with the Remount, Veterinary and Farms Directorate was void and without any legal effect.

The court directed that the CDA and the IWMB shall forthwith take over possession of Monal Restaurant and thereafter, seal its premises subject to allowing its owner/ management to take out its property.

It also directed, “The chairman of the Capital Development Authority shall undertake an inquiry to identify the officials responsible for the construction of Monal Restaurant and other buildings in the protected area of the National Park in violation of the Act of 1997, Ordinance of 1960, Ordinance of 1966, Ordinance of 1979 and the regulations made under the respective statutes. The Board of the Authority shall thereafter proceed against the officials in accordance with law.”

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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