Not all hope has been lost for khokha owners as the Islamabad High Court order, which was released on Wednesday, provides them some relief following the dismissal of their appeals against demolition.
Justice Aamer Farooq had announced on September 16 a one-word judgement in the case and said that the khokha owners’ petitions had been dismissed. The written order is, however, less dismissive.
Over 200 khokha owners whose licences are still valid and whose khokhas have not been demolished will be dealt with “in accordance with the law and by observing due process”, says the verdict.
The Capital Development Authority, under sections 49B and 49C of its ordinance, is bound to provide affectees (of any drastic step) at least 15 days before taking any action. The authority is also required to issue a written order explaining their alleged illegality and give them an opportunity of hearing.
The kiosks whose licences were revoked or cancelled, on the other hand, have been given the “alternative remedy of filing of a suit for damages subject to law”.
The mayor has been ordered to respect the right to equality of all khokha owners ensured under Article 25 of the Constitution.
Previously, the CDA and the Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad were ordered to ensure demolition of all “illegal constructions” in accordance with the original master plan of the city. The two city authorities have been told to “not adopt a policy of pick and choose,” and must implement the order without any discrimination.
“If the objective of the authorities behind the present drive is to return Islamabad to its master plan, then all structures which were not envisaged in it must be demolished, said Umer Gilani, who was representing a khokha owner in the case. “To go against the khokhas while sparing others will be unconstitutional.”
Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb, who has authored the verdict, had observed that, prima facie, the office of Islamabad Traffic Police in F-8 greenbelt was also built in violation of the master plan during the hearing on August 1.
Gilani and Raja Aleem Abbasi had pointed out that over 100 mosques in the city, the District Court complex in F-8 Markaz and High Court in G-10/1 were also not envisaged in the master plan.
Islamabad khokhas were demolished during the city’s ‘anti-encroachment’ drive even though they held valid licences from the Capital Development Authority. They were even paying the authority to get them renewed. The court was told that the khokhas can’t be labelled as ‘encroachments’. They argued that the lives of 500 households were dependent on the revenue from these khokhas.