LAHORE, Dec 20: Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry on Monday hearing an appeal of the Defence Housing Authority (DHA) claiming a right to block roads and thoroughfares for its own use, observed the elite could not be given the liberty to infringe upon masses rights.
“The privileged class of this country cannot be allowed to trample on the rights of commoners for its own convenience.”
Heading a three-member full bench of the Supreme Court at its Lahore Registry, the CJP directed the DHA to resolve amicably the dispute with its adjoining housing schemes over the usage of roads crossing its land and observed: “Otherwise, a Pandora’s box will be opened”.
Justice Khalilur Rehman Ramday and Justice Jawad S Khwaja were the other two members of the bench.
The DHA had filed an appeal challenging a subordinate court order which allowed Punjab Cooperative Housing Society (PCHS) and the Builders and
Developers (BD), a private construction firm, to use roads and passages of the Authority.
The PCHS had submitted that 60-foot wide and 300-yard-long road, from Ghazi Road to Kamahan Area, passing through AA and BB blocks of the DHA, was blocked by the Authority in 1989 and since then it was not letting them use it.
While the firm, BD, had contended it had a dispute with the DHA over 151-foot-long road leading to Fort Villas owned by Seth Abid. They said the DHA was not allowing them to use the passage, which was a violation of law.
On the other side, the DHA through its counsel argued that the roads were constructed on its property. The Authority also invested money in construction of roads and had every right to stop anybody from using its property.
At this, Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry observed that Pakistan belonged to commoners who gave sacrifices for its creation and privileged classes of this country could not be allowed to enjoy facilities at the cost of public rights.
“The court cannot allow setting up no-go areas in the country in the name of housing authorities and societies. And if this is allowed, everyone would claim its sovereign right on the area causing chaos in the country,” the CJP remarked.
Justice Ramday also observed that there were about 400 residential societies in the provincial metropolis and they would become sovereign states if they were allowed to stop others from using their roads.
He said previously the DHA had closed a passage causing three-day closure of LUMS. He said the matter in hand was not limited to the appellant only but it was concerned with the public at large as any decision of this court would apply to all housing societies and authorities in the country.
Justice Ramday also pointed out that in the original plan of the area at least 15 villages fell in the DHA domain and if the original status of roads and passages was restored many precious buildings would be bulldozed and that the passages might also be created through the famous golf course of the DHA.
During the course of hearing, Justice Jawad S Khwaja observed the DHA administration used cantonment and LDA roads and government land for running sewerage lines while electricity was provided to the Authority through government poles installed on public land and built with public money. “How can the DHA deprive public of the passage through its area,” he raised a question.
The bench adjourned the matter for Tuesday (today) and directed the Board of Revenue (BoR) collector to appear along with relevant record including “Musawi” of 1949 in order to ascertain the layout of passages in the original official documents.
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