LAHORE - A division bench of the LHC comprising Justice Abid Aziz Sheikh and Justice Shahid Karim will take up the petitions challenging construction of Orange Line project.

The court earlier granted a stay order in favor of the petitioners to restrain work at eleven historical sites of the city from where the Metro train has to pass through.

Previously, the petitioners’ counsel filed an application before the bench seeking amendment in the main petition after the respondent government had concluded its arguments on the main case.

The stance of the respondent government is that the petitioners’ counsel cannot file application for amendment as it will be rebuttal of their own stance earlier in the case while both sides have already been given a carte blanche to argue on the case. In such situation, it submits, the application for amendment in the main petition is nothing but just to elongate the proceedings.

The law officer of the Punjab government has given a categorical statement that the NOCs issued in November last year are not in the field and have been superseded by fresh NOCs. The issuance of fresh NOCs render the petition in which the civil miscellaneous application under reply has been filed as fructified, the law officers add.

On other hand, the petitioners’ counsel says that the Punjab government cannot issue revised NOCs under the law, because issuance of fresh NOCs would mean that the previous NOCs were incorrect. He submits even after fresh NOCs, there is no substantive change on site of construction of project. He says PPRA rules have also been violated in the project while public hearing has not been held which is pre-requisite for issuance of revised NOCs.

The counsel states the loan being sought from Chinese bank is hard loan. The respondent government has failed to comply with court orders regarding stay on historical monuments within 200-foot radius as per law and direction of the LHC, he says. He prays to the court to accept his application to amend the petition and set aside the whole project.

The case commenced in October last year when some members of the civil society and local residents challenged acquisition of land for the project and then, in December, filed petitions against the whole project for a number of reasons including environmental issues and heritage sites in the city. So far, more than 60 civil miscellaneous applications have been filed before the court in the case.

On January 28, 2016, the bench comprising Justice Abid Aziz Sheikh and Justice Shahid Karim stayed the project at eleven historical monuments. After the stay order, the case faced different phases.

On March 19, 2016, Chief Justice Ijazul Ahsan of the LHC, on request of the division bench headed by former Justice Muhammad Khalid Mehmood Khan, constituted a larger bench and consolidated all petitions filed against CPEC, Orange line and power coal projects. On March 23, the division bench comprising Justice Abid Aziz Sheikh and Justice Shahid Karim refused to sit with the larger bench. However, the bench resumed hearing on the next date as the Chief Justice separated orange line petitions from the other petitions.