SC orders Karachi be restored to 40-year-old state, illegal constructions be razed

A two-judge bench heard the case at Supreme Court Karachi Registry. – File Photo

KARACHI: The Supreme Court Karachi Registry ordered that the city be restored to how it was 40 years ago and directed authorities to demolish unlawful constructions.

A two-judge bench comprising Justice Gulzar Ahmed and Justice Sajid Ali Shah heard the case regarding illegal construction of wedding halls, shopping malls and plazas in residential areas.

During the hearing, the top court’s Karachi Registry ordered, “In Karachi, no house will be demolished to be used for commercial purposes.”

Barring the use of residential houses for commercial purpose, the bencj said, “Wedding halls, shopping malls and plazas will not be constructed on residential plots.”

The bench also sought details of wedding halls, shopping malls and plazas constructed in the city in the last 30 to 40 years and sought recommendations from the Sindh government regarding restoring the city to how it was 40 years ago. Further, the bench summoned the chief secretary in personal capacity. 

“Do whatever but implement court orders,” the bench directed. “If the orders are not implemented then we will ask DG Sindh Control Building Authority (SCBA) Iftikhar Qaimkhani to pack up.”

Censuring DG SCBA, Justice Ahmed questioned, “If you can’t work then why are you sitting on the post? Should we give this city to the federal or Sindh government?” 

“If they cannot run the city then the Sindh government can takeover,” Justice Ahmed remarked.

He further told the DG SCBA, “After a few days, you will also go to Canada.”

“Does anyone feel ashamed after looking at the condition of this city?” the judge asked. “SCBA officials only care about making billions,” he added.

Turning to the additional advocate general, Justice Ahmed said, “Finish the system of local government.” 

‘All encroachments should be immediately demolished’

The judge further told DG SCBA, “You and your officers are playing with fire. Have you ever seen the lavish lives your offices are living?”

Ordering that encroachments on Jam Sadiq Ali Park, Abdullah Gymkhana and KMC be immediately demolished, the court ordered, “All encroachments across the city should be immediately razed.”

Further, the bench also barred the SCBA from issuing no-objection certificates (NOC) for construction of commercial buildings unless the projects are approved by the Environmental Protection Agency.

The court also sought a report on the details of SCBA’s financial matters for the accountant general.

“The buildings which are not part of the master plan should be demolished. The city should be restored to how it was 40 years ago. No matter how many buildings there are, they should be demolished,” Justice Ahmed said.

The judge further remarked, “Eight-storey buildings have been constructed on government quarters. Everyone was involved in making money and the city was destroyed. Is this anybody’s father city that they may do as they please?”

“Who is permitting the construction of wedding halls and shopping centres in every street? Should we hand over the city to the federal government?” he asked.

At this, DG SCBA said, “Work is being done and we will implement court orders.” Justice Ahmed responded, “You should at least say that you should quit. You are increasing your bank balance in accounts which are in Dubai and the US.”

The DG SCBA then said, “I apologise, court orders will be implemented.”

Express anger again, the bench remarked, “We know that permission for wedding halls is still being granted. Wedding halls have been constructed everywhere, including Qayyumabad, North Nazimabad and Federal B Area.”