On Tuesday, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) pronounced its judgement on the case of encroachment by lawyer’s chambers in Islamabad. The court ruled that the chambers built by the lawyers in Sector F-8 are illegal and the land should be cleared.
In its 30-page judgement, the larger bench of the IHC said that their chambers are ‘illegal, void and without jurisdiction and authority”. The judgement was authored by the Chief Justice of IHC, Athar Minallah.
The court noted that the Islamabad District Bar had “allotted plots in favour of some lawyers for construction of private chambers” in 2017, however, the bar did not have the authority to allot public land and had not obtained any “permission or authorisation from the authorities”.
The bar members have been instructed to clear the “illegal construction” and “restore the playground for public use”.
The ground is situated “next to a commercial area where the administration of the Islamabad Capital Territory had rented privately-owned buildings more than four decades ago for establishing the District Courts,” the court said. “The playground was encroached [upon], and some construction has also been raised by a few enrolled advocates for building their private chambers.”
To put the use to public use, the court ordered that the federal government should make arrangements to hold a football tournament on March 23 and “give tribute to the greatest lawyer of the subcontinent and founder of the nation Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah.”
A separate five-acre plot in Mauve Area has been earmarked by the government so that Islamabad lawyers could “establish facilities for themselves”. The federal government should “commence and complete the construction of the state of the art complex of District courts without unnecessary delay,” read the judgement. The government must submit a progress report to the court’s registrar each month.
The court also ordered action against “public functionaries” that failed to take notice of the encroachment.
The petitioner, Shehnaz Butt, told the court that the encroachment “by enrolled advocates and the occupants of adjoining commercial buildings” started in 2013. She further pleaded to the court that the general public, particularly the young people, have been deprived of their right to enjoy the benefits of the playground.
The ground includes facilities for playing sports such as football, squash, basketball, and volleyball.
On February 8, a group of lawyers had attacked the building of the Islamabad High Court. They vandalised the court building and also broke the windows of Justice Athar Minallah’s chambers. This assault at the court came in the aftermath of the operations carried out by the Capital Development Authority (CDA) to demolish the encroachments.