LAHORE - Justice Mamoonur Rasheed Sheikh of the Lahore High Court yesterday stayed demolition of the boundary wall of Governor’s House Punjab with a strict direction to the provincial government that not a single brick of the wall should be pulled out after restraint order of the court.

The court also issued notice to the federal and Punjab governments for filing reply to the petition moved by advocate Ahsan Naveed Farooqi raising legal and factual questions relating to the historic value and preservation of the Governor’s House building.

Reacting to the stay order, Punjab Information Minister Fayyazul Hasan Chohan said that government would obey the order. He also said that the matter would come under discussion in a meeting on Tuesday (today).

Prime Minister Imran Khan, presiding over a provincial cabinet meeting here on Saturday, had directed the Punjab government to demolish the boundary wall of the Governor’s House. Premier Imran Khan’s party had made announcement during the election campaign that the building will be used to set up a university or a museum instead of providing residential facility to a family in it which sprawls over many acres.

The petitioner argued that prime minister’s order of demolishing the Governor House’s boundary wall was a bid to make the colonial-era building visible to general public. He said a day after the prime minister’s order, the government, in a hasty move, started demolishing the boundary wall of the Governor’s House. He argued that the act was in gross violation of various sections of the Punjab Special Premises (Preservation), Ordinance, 1985 and the Antiquities Act, 1975.

The counsel pleaded that the building had a cultural, architectural and historic significance and thereby protected under section 10 of the National Antiquities Act 1975 and section 5 of The Punjab Special Premises (Preservation) Ordinance 1985 respectively. He contended that the laws strictly prohibited destruction of special premises.

Advocate Farooqi pointed out that the decision to demolish the boundary wall of the Governor’s House raised several questions because people considered it as a heritage site. Moreover, he said, a mandatory permission had not been sought from the provincial cabinet.

He further said that security measures had not been adopted by the government while scraping wall of the Governor’s House as VIP moments will be exposed to risk in case of metal grills will be erected instead of walls.

The counsel urged the court to restrain the government from demolishing the wall of the Governor’s House being an unlawful act. He also requested the court to order a legal action against those who instructed the demolition and involved in bulldozing the wall.

Justice Sheikh observed that he had been witnessing the walls of the Governor’s House since his childhood. A provincial law officer told the court that the boundary wall of the Governor’s House did not fall within the definition of the protected premises.

However, the judge restrained the government from carrying out demolition work on the Governor’s House wall and sought detailed replies from federal and provincial governments on legal questions raised in the petition. Justice Sheikh warned the government that the violators of the stay order will be sent to jail. Next date of hearing will be fixed by the court office.