LAHORE - The Lahore High Court will announce today decision on the country’s most costly project, Orange Line, passing by eleven historical monuments of the provincial capital.

A division bench headed by Justice Abid Aziz Sheikh and Justice Shahid Karim would announce the decision at 10am. The bench, on July 14, reserved verdict after hearing both sides on petitions challenging construction of the project for being threat to the cultural landscape of the city.

During final stage of the case, the bench had observed that the government wanted to protect the project whereas the law concerned required protection of historical monuments. The court heard all parties’ lengthy arguments since the case started in November last year.

On January 28, 2016, the court stayed construction of Orange Line project at eleven historical monuments including Lakshami building, Shalimari Gardens, GPO Chowk, Aiwan-i-Auqaf, Shah Charagh building, Supreme Court registry, Saint Andew Church, Baba Mauj Darya’s shrine, Ghulabi Bagh, Bhudu ka Awa, Chauburji and tomb of Zeb-un-Nisa on petitions challenging the project for being threat to the environment and cultural beauty of the provincial metropolis.

As the case started last year in November, the Punjab government hired the professional services of renowned lawyer Khwaja Haris advocate to defend Orange Line who left the case for personal reasons known to him. The post of Advocate General of Punjab also remained vacant for more than one month which created many problems for the Punjab government, especially for defense of the Orange line project. 

The government notified a junior officer to represent the office of the principal law officer in meeting with the chief minister and other department. On March 7, 2016, the Punjab government appointed Advocate Shakilur Rehman as Advocate General Punjab and then proper defense of the case started in the cases.

A contempt petition was filed against the Punjab government for allegedly violating the stay order on Orange line project. The court constituted a commission comprising incumbent Secretary of Supreme Court Bar Association Advocate Asad Manzoor Butt and former LHCBA Secretary Barrister Ahmad Qayyum but the commission submitted its report very late and did not fix responsibility on the government.

Punjab Advocate General Shakil-ur-Rehman argued that Unesco had also approved the project and gave go ahead to the government to complete the project. He said the government tried its best to maintain everything including environment and historical monuments.

Supreme Court Bar Association President Barrister Syed Ali Zafar assisted the court as amicus curie in the case. Zafar contended that the high court can stop the project if the project harms the antiquities or monuments. He said that it is right of the government to construct and develop the public infrastructure in a city to meet the demands of the people.

Royal Palm case: The Lahore High Court yesterday issued notices in a petition filed by Royal Palm Golf and Country Club’s management seeking FIR against federal minister for railways and others on the charges of illegally possessing the club and damaging its property.

Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan appeared before the court on behalf of the club’s management. He told the court that District & Sessions Judge turned down their petition and did not order police for registration of FIR against the minister and other officials of the railways.

He said that to obey court orders. Earlier, he said the railways police and other senior officials of the department raided at the club and expelled the management. He alleged Khwaja Saad Rafiq was backing the police and the department. 

He prayed the court to order police to register a FIR against railway’s minister Khwaja Saad Rafiq and others for not complying with court’s orders and damaging the property of the petitioner at the club. After hearing initial arguments, Justice Shams Mahmood Mirza issued notices to the respondents and adjourned hearing until Sept 1.