Islamabad - The Islamabad High Court yesterday turned down the petitions wherein the owners of some 70 properties of Islamabad have moved the court against Capital Development Authority’s notices directing them to halt business activities in the residential areas.

A single bench of IHC comprising Justice Aamer Farooq dismissed the petition through a short order which he had reserved earlier after hearing the arguments of all the parties.

The civic body had issued these notices on the directives of the Supreme Court of Pakistan to stop business activities in the residential areas of Islamabad as it falls under nonconforming use of the buildings.

PPP Senator Sherry Rehman being President Jinnah Institute is also among the petitioners who had challenged CDA notices issued to her directing to vacate Jinnah Institute (JI) trust office from the F-6 residential area.

Besides the Jinnah Institute, beauty parlours, think-tank institutes, several restaurants, boutiques etc have challenged the CDA notices that allege nonconforming use and violation of the Islamabad Residential Sectors Zoning (Building Control) Regulations 2005 and the CDA Ordinance, 1960.

Senator Sherry Rehman contended before the IHC that JI was formed on August 11, 2010 and it is a non-profitable institute not involved in any kind of business activities. JI organize seminars and workshops on security and defense issues participated by diplomats, government functionaries and politicians. JI board of directors included foreigners, retired army personals and people belonging to different spheres of life.

Petitioner said that relocating JI office to some commercial area involved hazards of being attacked by the terrorist groups. Since, JI is purely non-commercial entity, so it may be allowed to keep working in the area or may be granted a reasonable time to relocate as it has been granted to the schools in the same area.

The counsels for other petitioners adopted before the IHC that CDA issued notices to them without mentioning the precise nature of such nonconforming use and specifying to the nature of such violations.

Akram Sheikh Advocate while representing Guest Houses said before the court that the petitioners being the private individuals have been providing “Bed and Breakfast” facilities in different sectors in their lawfully constructed premises.

He argued that notice fails to indicate with clarity as to what is considered non-conforming use. He added that the notices state that if the petitioners do not stop operating their premises will be sealed and heavy fines will be imposed.

The counsel was of the view that accommodating paying guests in a residential building is a lawful activity in vogue for centuries and does not constitute any offence to any provision of law. 

He continue that moreover the nonconforming use is not even been defined in the CDA Ordinance, 1960.

Therefore, the petitioners prayed to the court to direct CDA to withdraw all notices, stop harassing the petitioners and they may be allowed to keep up with their businesses.