SC takes notice of lawyers’ chambers constructed on football ground
ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar on Monday took suo motu notice of the ongoing ‘illegal’ construction of about 500 chambers by local lawyers on a football ground in F-8. The CJP took the notice “on news in print as well as social media that public park/football ground is being encroached…[and] ordered to call a report in the matter from chairman CDA within three days,” said a statement issued by the apex court. The outgoing District Bar Association Islamabad (DBAI) in December last year revived a controversial plan for the construction of lawyers’ chambers on the amenity plot. The former office-bearers had divided the football ground into five blocks and named them after themselves. Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar orders CDA to submit report in three days One of the blocks was named after Naveed Malik, an ex-president DBAI, while the other blocks were named after former secretary DBAI Chauhdry Naseer, vice president Shakeel Awan, joint secretary Dilawar Khan and the fifth as Shuhada Block. The new encroachment started a few months back on the basis of a stay order issued by Senior Civil Judge II Mohammad Shabbir who restrained the CDA from interfering in the construction of the chambers on the public ground. In 2013, the lawyers had planned to construct the chambers and obtained a judicial order from Civil Judge Naveed Khan. However, after resistance by traders of F-8, the Capital Development Authority (CDA) demolished about 30 under-construction chambers. But almost half of the plot occupied by lawyers could not be retrieved. There was even a clash between the lawyers and traders, which forced the police to move an application to seal the ground. The lawyers were so desperate to construct the chambers on the remaining plot that they detained several judges of the subordinate judiciary in their respective offices in October 2013 after Civil Judge Umer Shabbir showed reluctance in issuing a contempt of court notice to the then chairman of the CDA for demolishing the chambers. In addition to the football ground, the lawyers have also constructed chambers on footpaths, litigants’ sitting area and at every open space available in front of courtrooms as well as in the surrounding of the district courts. However, the old controversy was revived after Mr Malik, the outgoing president of the DBAI, in December last year, just a month before the expiry of his term, filed a petition with the senior civil judge for the construction of 500 chambers on the football ground. In the petition, Mr Malik said construction of a chamber was the fundamental right of a lawyer but the CDA was creating hurdles in it. He requested the court to restrain the CDA as well as the police and the district administration from preventing the lawyers from constructing their chambers. A former president of the IBA on condition of anonymity told Dawn that the football ground was among encroached amenity plots. He said the CDA had pointed out the encroachment even before the Supreme Court a few years ago and the apex court had ordered removal of the encroachment. The CDA has included the ground among the encroached amenity plots a list of which has already been submitted to the apex court and the Islamabad High Court (IHC), he added. The civic agency has recently pursued the case in the civil court as well. Last month, CDA’s legal adviser Kashif Ali Malik appeared before the senior civil judge and requested for vacating the restraining order which allowed the lawyers to construct the chambers. The judge, Amir Aziz Khan, withdrew the stay order after hearing the CDA but the enforcement directorate of the civic agency could not retrieve the plot from the adverse possession of the lawyers. A CDA report stated that the lawyers had also encroached on state land worth millions of rupees that was recently retrieved after removing a restaurant from the site. Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui of the IHC while hearing another case had directed the CDA to submit a report. The CDA in the report dated Dec 19 stated that the lawyers were constructing chambers on a public ground. “Action undertaken by the lawyers is completely unlawful and stands in violation of the CDA Ordinance 1960,” the report stated. It also said when the CDA staff visited the area to retrieve the land and asked the lawyers to stop the work they presented a stay order issued by the court of senior civil judge II Mohammad Shabbir. The report has yet to be taken up by the IHC. Published in Dawn, February 6th, 2018