ISLAMABAD            -      The Islamabad High Court (IHC) Thursday directed Deputy Commissioner Islamabad to conduct a survey through an authorised representative to ascertain complaints regarding alleged land grabbing or harassment of the general public by or on behalf of the Park View Enclave housing society. 

A single bench of IHC comprising Chief Justice of IHC Justice Athar Minallah also directed Amin Aslam, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Climate Change and the Secretary, Climate Change to visit the area and submit a detailed report regarding violations of environmental laws and their likely affects. 

During the hearing, Arshad Chohan, Director Regional Planning, Capital Development Authority (CDA) along with Dr. Shahid Mehmood, Member (Planning) appeared before the court. Chohan was the author of summary, dated 24.04.2018, which had formed the basis for issuance of the No Objection Certificate (NOC) to the housing society.  They were not able to satisfy the court regarding queries raised in the last court order, dated 03.08.2020.  During the course of arguments, Chohan stated that the regulations were amended in 2010 and pursuant thereto societies were allowed to be established in Zone-IV. He, however, admitted that the “Master Plan” did not allow establishing housing schemes in Zone-IV. 

The court noted in its order, the ‘Master Plan’ has statutory backing as provided under section 11 of the Capital Development Authority Ordinance, 1960. The representatives of the Authority were not able to justify amending the regulations in violation of the parent statute. 

The CDA officials informed the court that the regulations were amended pursuant to the judgment of the august Supreme Court in the matter of “Suo Motu Case” but the court observed that it, prima facie, appears that the judgment of the august Supreme Court was misinterpreted.  The IHC bench asked from them regarding description in the “Master Plan” relating to the area for which “No Objection Certificate” was issued. To the surprise of the court, they stated that the area has been described as “National Park” in the “Master Plan.” 

The court noted that it appears that the area has been duly notified as such under the Islamabad Wildlife (Protection, Preservation, Conservation and Management) Ordinance, 1979. It is alarming to note that the Environmental Protection Agency also does not appear to have taken any action nor its approval was sought under the Pakistan Environmental Protection Act, 1997 by the Capital Development Authority before issuance of the “No Objection Certificate” and that too for establishing a housing scheme in an environmentally sensitive area. 

“The regulator i.e. the Authority for reasons which are required to be explained to the satisfaction of this Court, purportedly granted the “No Objection Certificate” and allowed a profit earning entity to take law in its own hands and violate fundamental rights of ordinary citizens. This Court has been inundated with complaints received from ordinary citizens complaining against the alleged illegalities committed by the private respondent i.e. M/s Park View Enclave (Pvt) Ltd or its agents,” said the court. 

It added, “The Capital Development Authority was given an opportunity to satisfy this Court regarding the legality of the No Objection Certificate, granted to a privately owned profit making entity, but they failed to do so. This Court, therefore, gives yet another opportunity to the Capital Development Authority to justify the serious violations of various enforced laws and harassment caused to the petitioners and other ordinary citizens.” 

Justice Athar said that it is noted that “No Objection Certificate” was granted in an area where establishing housing schemes was prohibited and appears to be a declared National Park. This has serious consequences for the fundamental rights of the citizens and the future generations as well. 

He added, “This, prima facie, appears to be a classic example of failure of the system and lack of will, whether intentional or unintentional, on part of the regulator and other relevant institutions. They appear to have failed in discharging their respective duties and obligations under the relevant statutes and thus allowed rights of the citizens to be violated.”