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Court gives three weeks for demolition of Naval Sailing Club in Islamabad

Updated 07 Jan, 2022
The chief justice said the Navy had no authority "to indulge in any sort of real state venture". File photo
The chief justice said the Navy had no authority "to indulge in any sort of real state venture". File photo

The Islamabad High Court on Friday declared the construction of Navy Sailing Club near Rawal Lake "illegal", and ordered razing the building within three weeks while directing authorities to submit a report in the court.

IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah announced the verdict, which had been reserved a day ago, on the petition filed against the construction of the navy club and blocking public access to Rawal Lake.

The IHC chief justice said that the Pakistan Navy had no authority "to engage in any sort of real state venture". On the other hand, the Capital Development Authority had no rights to issue no objection certificate to the naval authorities, he added.

The court also issued orders to initiate criminal and military proceedings against former naval chief Admiral retired Zafar Mahmood Abbasi and others involved in the setting up of the club.

Pakistan's armed forces hold an important status, which is also outlined in the Constitution of Pakistan, said Justice Minallah, while asserting that the name of such institution's cannot be used for real state business.

Admiral Abbasi, the former chief of the naval staff, violated the Constitution by inaugurating an illegal building, he observed, adding that the construction encroached on the National Park Area thus making the club illegal.

On Thursday, the IHC chief justice had asked the CDA representative to clarify two aspects of the case.

First, he asked whether the CDA issues NOC even when there is no provision for the same according to the law.

Citing an example, Jutice Minallah asked whether the IHC would get the NOC even though engaging in business isn't part of its mandate.

Secondly, Justice Minallah inquired whether constructions was allowed in Zone IV in 1993.

At this, the CDA member said that naval farm houses were allowed to be constructed at that time, adding that illegal constructions are demolished under the Building By-laws 2020.

When Justice Minallah asked the action of the authority on the cancellation of an NOC, the CDA official said the authority overtook it and sealed the management offices of the illegal housing societies working with NOC.

Following this, the chief justice asked who was the director housing of Naval Farms and whether the CDA would seal his office too.

In July 2020, the IHC ordered sealing of the club, saying the naval official could not explain any plausible justification for the construction of such a lucrative structure at the bank of a water reservoir.