February 17th, 2021
By Rehan Piracha
The Islamabad High Court on Tuesday ordered the demolition of encroachments and illegal lawyers chambers in sector F-8 playground adjoining the district courts.
The court had reserved judgment on a petition by Shahnaz Butt, a resident of sector F-8 for ending encroachment on a multipurpose playground in Sector F-8 by lawyers and occupants of nearby commercial buildings. Some lawyers had built their private chambers on the encroached playground.
CDA told to hold football match on 23rd March on the playground
Announcing the judgment of the four-member larger bench comprising Justice Aamer Farooq, Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani, and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurnagzeb, Chief Justice Ather Minallah declared allotments made by the Islamabad District Bar in the playground as illegal, void, and without jurisdiction and authority, directing the Capital Development Authority and the federal government to clear the playground by March 23 if the lawyers refuse to vacate their chambers. The chief justice also directed the administration to hold a football match of school students to pay tribute to Quaid-e-Azam on March 23.
Public interest made subservient to the interests of a few
The court in its judgment noted that the guardians of rule of law are alleged to have grossly breached their code of conduct. State land meant for the exclusive use of the general public has encroached for private gains. “This phenomenon has been in existence for decades because the functionaries of the State, whether belonging to the executive or judicial branches, have remained complicit. They have preferred to look the other way and have been instrumental in facilitating grave violations of law and, by doing so, they have made the public good and public interest subservient to the interests of a few private individuals,” the court order reads.
Justice Athar Minallah said the encroachment happened because public functionaries and institutions of the State were complacent and chose not to fulfill their constitutional obligations. “The encroachments on any State land and any construction thereon in violation of the Ordinance of 1960 and the rules or regulations made thereunder are illegal, void and liable to be removed forthwith,” the judgment reads.
Lawyers violated the law by building chambers
The court also expressed concern that the lawyers had violated the law by building chambers on encroached state land. “An Advocate who takes the law into his or her own hands or violates the law in any manner whatsoever is not eligible to be certified by the High Court as ‘fit and proper’ to plead and appear before the august Supreme Court. Likewise, an enrolled Advocate who volunteers to take law in his/her own hands cannot be certified as having ‘character and conduct’ for the purposes of being enrolled as an Advocate of the High Court,” Athar Minallah wrote in his judgment.
Judicial complex to be made functional by March 23 next year
The court hoped that the members of the Islamabad District Bar will clear the illegal construction and restore the playground as a gesture towards the general public. The court directed that the Islamabad District Bar may submit its proposed plan to the Capital Development Authority for consideration and approval in relation to the lawyer’s plot of a five-acre plot separately allotted by the Federal Government for the use of the lawyers. The high court ordered the federal government to commence and complete the construction of the state of the art complex of district courts without unnecessary delay, adding that the judicial complex should be made functional before March 23 next year.