LAHORE - Three different departments of the Punjab government are being forced to vacate about 80 office suites in a Cooperative building near the Civil Secretariat as the LHC chief justice wants to accommodate the newly appointed judicial officers there.

The exercise is part of the plan to shift almost all the courts, now scattered in various parts of the metropolis, to the same neighbourhood. The Anti Terrorism Courts are located at Dharam Pura, Accountability Courts at Shadman Court, Anti Corruption Courts at Bahawalpur House, and Banking Courts at Mall Road.

It is not clear where the dislocated offices of the three departments will ultimately be moved. However, for the time being, the Punjab government has to hire rooms to adjust all the staff earlier accommodated in the Cooperative building.

The five-story building which would be used by the judiciary now is owned by Cooperatives Department.

A couple of days ago, the LHC chief justice had asked the chief secretary to vacate the building owned by the Cooperatives department as the newly appointed judges in the lower judiciary need new offices which the government lacks. The CS had replied that it would be hard for the government to vacate the offices as it had severe shortage of office suites for different departments.

About 370 civil judges were appointed by the LHC in August this year. Moreover, the process for recruitment of 158 Additional District and Session Judges is under way.

The Punjab government has already handed over the LDA Complex, located just adjacent to the Civil Secretariat, to the LHC which established different civil courts in the building.

The Civil Secretariat had hired about 80 office suites for its different department including Finance, Information, and Regulations at the Cooperatives Building since long and had spent millions of rupees on the renovation and finishing of the offices. Alone the Finance department had hired about 32 offices in the cooperative complex.

A senior officer of the Punjab government requesting anonymity told The Nation that the government had to shift its Secretariat offices from the Cooperatives Building to other building located at the Bank Square Shahrah e Quaid-i-Azam, Lytton Road and other places.

Lauding the efforts of the LHC CJ to accumulate all the scattered courts at one place, the officer feared the exercise would dislocate the Punjab government head quarters and scatter it. “The Punjab Secretariat already faces severe shortage of offices as some of the secretaries were forced to sit away from the Secretariat.

“The Social Welfare Secretary office is located at Model town Extension, Environment Protection Secretary at Gaddafi Stadium, Special Education Secretary at Garden Town, Auqaf department near Lahore High Court, Excise and Taxation at Farid Kot House, Transport Secretary at Egerton Road, Forest Secretary at Multan Road and Energy Department at Jail Road in EFU Building.

“Likewise, many other secretaries from the departments of Zakat, Sports and Population Welfare etc have offices located away from the main secretariat. People visiting the offices located at Civil Secretariat and now scattered at different places will have to face problems.”

The officer stressed the need to accumulate all the departmental head offices at one place in the provincial capital.