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KMC demolished illegal structures on land of the Park in PECHS

KARACHI: The Sindh High Court ruled that an eight-acre plot located in PECHS, initially meant for a park, was converted into a housing scheme after the approval of the authorities concerned.

While allowing a set of petitions, seeking declaration for lawful ownership and against dispossession of the petitioners, the two-judge bench comprising Justice Mohammad Ali Mazhar and Justice Abdul Maalik Gaddi directed the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) and other respondents not to initiate any demolition and coercive action against the petitioners.

The bench in its judgement said that it could safely be ascertained that all actions regarding the housing scheme were with the approval of the authorities concerned and the same was also endorsed by the decision of the SHC handed down in 1989.

The petitioners approached the SHC and submitted that a plot measuring eight acres and located in PECHS was sub-divided into 106 plots and out of those plots, they were the owners of their respective plots on the basis of registered sub-lease deeds.

They submitted that initially the land was reserved for an amusement park and later correspondence was initiated between PECHS and the federal ministry of works and other relevant authorities regarding conversion of the land from an amusement park to a housing scheme. Thereafter the ministry and the authorities concerned approved the proposal to utilise the land for a housing scheme.

However, the petitioner contended that the conversion of the land from an amusement park to a housing scheme was cancelled by the Karachi Development Authority (KDA) and other government departments in 1983, adding that the same was challenged before the SHC and a divisional bench had declared the action of the KDA illegal in 1989.

They further argued that in 2007 staff of the KMC and others came to remove the boundary walls and main gate without any prior notice or justification, thus the petitioners moved the SHC.

The KMC (formerly CDGK) had pleaded for dismissal of these petitions on the ground that the petitioners had no cause of action for filing such petitions against the CDGK, which was taking action strictly in accordance with the law and rules and constructing a park for welfare of the people of the city and no one was entitled to occupy the parkland, which was public property.

The bench in its judgement observed: “Having scrutinised the entire material available on record, we have come to the conclusion that when the land in question was converted from amusement park to a housing scheme, there was no prohibition under the law. Not only this, the land in question was converted into housing scheme after the approval of competent authorities, who were fully empowered to do so”.

The counsel for the KMC/KDA had failed to bring on record anything which indicated that the NOCs from the authorities concerned were obtained fraudulently, it added.

The bench further said that the SHC divisional bench in its 1989 judgement not only raised the question of conversion of the land, but also considered and decided in favour of the housing scheme and this judgement was neither challenged by the KDA/KMC nor any other authorities concerned before the Supreme Court and, therefore, the same had attained finality.

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