The Supreme Court on Friday ordered the demolition of an under-construction multi-story building in Gulshan-i-Iqbal, Karachi giving the developer and authorities four weeks to complete the task.
The court ordered the Karachi commissioner and builders to raze Tejori Heights Tower after it was unable for plot lawyers to establish who owned the property on which the residential complex was built.
The chief justice of Pakistan, Justice Gulzar Ahmed, and two other justices on the three-judge bench, Justice Ijaz Ul Ahsan and Justice Qazi Mohammad Amin Ahmed instructed the builders to repay allottees their money in full within three months.
It further asked the commissioner to ensure that the demolition and debris removal process was completed within the designated time.
On Thursday, the bench found that the construction on the land was illegal because papers submitted in court were falsified and could not verify the developers’ ownership of the disputed property.
The court was about to rule when senior counsel Raza Rabbani for the builders requested more time to consult with his clients. The JCP postponed the case until next Friday, requesting that the council contact his clients and inquire whether they intended to demolish the structure on their own or seek a court order.
When the bench took up the matter on Friday, Mr. Rabbani informed it that the builders agreed to demolish the structure by themselves and sought time to remove files of allottees from the site office for purpose of payment of compensation.
The court had previously put several queries to the council about the papers presented before it, as well as to prove the land’s title.
The court heard that the developers allegedly acquired the property in dispute during the construction of their project on another plot of land in Survey No. 188. The panel stated that until a sale deed for Survey 190 is canceled, no allotments can be made in Survey No. 188.
The Attorney-General’s Chambers highlighted that a new sale deed should have been prepared for new/substitute property as the transfer of title cannot be accomplished through the rectification of general power of attorney or sale agreement.
The lawyer for Pakistan Railways, Raja Qasit Nawaz, claimed that the disputed property had been given to the railways for the Karachi Circular Railways (KCR) and that builders were illegally constructing after producing fraudulent papers of ownership.
The unfinished structure is located near the Gilani railway station of the KCR in Block 13-D, Gulshan-i-Iqbal, which was abandoned.
On December 11, the Supreme Court halted work on Tejori Heights Tower and ordered the builders to refrain from establishing a third-party interest, noting that according to documents, there was no right of Tejori Heights on the land in question. The commissioner of Karachi was instructed to take control of the construction site till further notice.
Karachi Town Builders and Developers and Javed Iqbal Qureshi, the firm’s owner, are Kamran Tessori’s father-in-law.
The opposition PR had last year filed an FIR against Tessori over allegations that he had encroached on railway property measuring 2,783 square yards.
Removal of marquees from Hindu Gymkhana ordered
The bench also instructed the National Academy of Performing Arts (Napa) and authorities concerned to remove the marquees and other temporary constructions from Hindu Gymkhana’s grounds within two months, as they were affecting the building’s historical character.
It also instructed the culture secretary and Karachi commissioner to provide Napa with alternative housing in Hindu Gymkhana’s historic structure, as well as alternate accommodation.
The bench ruled that because some of the gymkhana’s windows on the ground floor were made of aluminum, while others on the first floor were old-style and ruled that the existing character of the windows should be restored.
The bench also took issue with the construction of an auditorium at Napa, claiming that how such development might be permitted on a heritage site. The attorney for Napa claimed that the auditorium was built behind the heritage building for its operations without impeding views of arches, moldings, or columns.
According to the lawyer, Napa had unlawfully occupied the Hindu Gymkhana property after being permitted by the Sindh Provincial Culture Department and legal conflicts had arisen about an eviction notice and alleged modifications to the structure and building.
After viewing the pictures lawyer for Napa had annexed with his pleadings the apex court observed that it did not provide a clear view of the building from all sides. It issued directives to take pictures and make videos providing a clear view of the gymkhana building and structures raised around it and present the same at the next hearing.
The culture secretary, Firdous Riaz, proposed the Jinnah Cultural Complex in North Karachi, which is located near to where the city of Napa is supposed to be relocated. Counsel for Napa claimed that he was unaware of any similar complex and would make a final decision after seeing it.
The court ruled that Napa should be relocated to a location that was accessible and offered enough area for a world-class theater and associated amenities, and the commissioner was instructed to seek space and offer ideas.
A petition was submitted by Shree Ratneshwar Mahadev Welfare in 2014, alleging that the heritage site belonged to the Hindu community of Karachi before partition because the gymkhana building had been built to promote social and religious activities for Hindus. However, after the partition, the government took control of it as an evacuee trust.
Culture secretary Jeremy Hunt is ridiculed by CJP.
The CJP also harshly condemned the secretary culture department for the depilated conditions of heritage buildings in the province and asked him what his department was doing to preserve and protect such sites.
He stated that there were numerous structures from the pre-colonial and colonial eras, but instead of being preserved, they were being demolished and replaced with high-rise buildings.