LAHORE: A three-member SC bench on Tuesday observed that the Constitution is the supreme law of the land, all institutions are bound to follow it, and no one can be allowed to impose his desires on others. Only the rule of law will prevail in the country instead of rule of any one person, it added.
The bench comprising Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Justice Jawwad S Khwaja and Justice Khalilur Rehman Ramday made these remarks while hearing a case against blocking of public thoroughfares by the Defence Housing Authority (DHA) for two adjacent housing societies.
The CJ remarked: “The DHA cannot be allowed to do whatever it wants. Only law will prevail and the court cannot go beyond the scope of Constitution.” He said every citizen had a constitutional right of free movement, which could not be curbed. At the outset, the counsel told the court that the DHA had provided 13 entry points to commoners and villagers of the adjacent area, but it was not willing to let them use the road from Ghazi Road to Kamahan area.
The counsel was speechless when the CJ asked him to identify the law under which the DHA was empowered to restrict people’s movement. “How is it possible that a man is permitted to use street No.45, but at the same time not allowed to use street No.50?” the CJP asked.
Having no answer to the court’s query, the counsel said if commoners were allowed to use these roads, the area would be turned into residential areas like Gwalmandi and Nisbat Road. However, the argument annoyed the Chief Justice greatly. “A real picture of Pakistan is portrayed at Gwalmandi and Nisbat Road. The DHA does not represent the real Pakistan,” the CJ observed.
Justice Khwaja remarked: “This elite mindset is needed to be changed as it has become the main reason for the downfall of society.” In a taunting tone, the judge remarked that the DHA should also take over the Gwalmandi area.
The DHA counsel, however, insisted that the Authority was a private society and its roads belonged to it. It had exclusive rights over the thoroughfares and its assets, he argued. Justice Ramday said the DHA was no longer a private society, as in 1999 a public authority (DHA) was established through legislation and all roads were now public thoroughfares. The judge again remarked that as the DHA had blocked roads, it should provide helicopters to commoners to reach their destinations.
“The DHA is not situated on an island. It is set up in Pakistan and the rights of citizens could not be curtailed on whims of an individual,” Justice Ramday observed. Revenue officials also presented the DHA record in the court. After examining it minutely, Justice Khwaja remarked that at the inception of the society, there were at least 25 entry and exit points.
After failing to get a satisfactory answer from the DHA counsel, the CJ reiterated that it would be better for both parties to sit together and resolve the issue as the SC cannot further proceed with it. The court made it clear that the DHA should address its security concerns, but could not convert the locality into a “no-go area”.
The DHA counsel conceded that he was ready to sit with the contesting parties, after which the court adjourned the hearing for Dec 23. The DHA had filed appeals in the SC against an LHC verdict in favour of the Punjab Cooperative Housing Society (PCHS) and Builders and Developers (BD).
The PCHS submitted that 60 feet wide and three hundred yard long road, leading from Ghazi Road to Kamahan area, passing through AA and BB blocks of the DHA, had been blocked by the DHA since 1989.
The counsel for the BD submitted that they had a dispute over 151 feet long road leading to their Fort Villas, owned by Seth Abid. He said the DHA authorities were not letting them use the passage.
Source: The News