KARACHI: Former Sindh Chief Minister Mumtaz Ali Bhutto and Khan Liaquat Ali Jato and others on Thursday adopted a constitutional petition in Sindh High Court pre-trial examination of high court judges to evaluate and identify illegal activities by the provincial government to break dams Towers, and BS Ghouspur Loop Feeder.
The petitioners, including Syed Jalal Mehmood Shah and Syed Shah Mohammed Shah, impleaded Sindh Chief Minsiter Syed Qaim Ali Shah, irrigation minister Saifullah Dharejo, the chief secretary, the irrigation secretary, the chief engineer of the Guddu Barrage, the senior executive engineer and executive engineer of the B. S. Feeder.
They submitted that the illegal decision to breach Torri, Ghouspur Loop and B. S. Feeder embankments caused a loss of thousands of human lives and made millions others displaced.
The petitioners said that at least seven districts of Sindh and two of Balochistan had been washed away with all infrastructures destroyed.
They submitted that the act of the respondents was in clear violation of the fundamental rights of the petitioners and citizens, particularly the right to live as guaranteed under Article 9 of the Constitution.
They prayed to the court to direct the government to constitute a judicial inquiry/tribunal comprising sitting judges of the high court to assess and determine the illegalities committed by the respondents and to hold them accountable.
The petitioners also prayed to the court to declare the artificial breaches of the embankments as illegal.
Bankwala House case
The Sindh High Court on Thursday directed the provincial culture secretary to file the minutes of the meeting in which the Bankwala House was listed in the first place as a heritage building.
A division bench headed by Chief Justice Sarmad Jalal Osmany was seized with a constitutional petition filed by Munira Nazir Chinoy, a resident of 3 Mary Road, Frere Town Quarters No 4, Bath Island, who questioned the demolition of the protected building adjacent to her home.
The petitioners, represented by Advocate Muhammed Murtaza Chinoi, impleaded the government of Sindh and Navaz Bankwala, wife of Rustam Bankwala, the owner of the protected building, as respondents.
The petitioner, resident of the locality since 1966, submitted that the Bankwala House was declared a protected heritage site under Section 6 of the Sindh Cultural Heritage (preservation) Act, 1994.
She stated that she recently learnt that Mrs Bankwala planned to shift from the Bankwala House and had the protected building de-listed from the protected heritage sites though certain “sources”.
The petitioner stated that no notification was ever given to the public, nor were objections invited before removing the building from the list of protected sites. Rather it was done in a covert manner.
She apprehended that the respondent owner of the Bankwala House would sell the building for the construction of a high-rise.
The petitioner’s counsel argued that the demolition of the Bankwala House was illegal as even the owner of a protected building could not destroy, remove, alter and or deface a protected heritage site under the Heritage Act.
She requested the court to call the record of the purported delisting of the Bankwala House from the list of protected sites and declare the building a protected heritage.
On Thursday the secretary for culture filed the criteria for listing and delisting of heritage properties, which had been approved by the advisory committee.
The culture secretary stated that the Bankwala House was de-listed at a meeting of the advisory committee. He stated that the minutes of the meeting had already been filed.
The same bench directed the principal law officer of the City District Government Karachi, Manzoor Ahmed, to inform the court about the present status of the intercity bus terminal built by the city government for buses going to and coming from Balochistan.
The bench was hearing a petition filed by 12 operators of intercity buses against a notice by the Cantonment Board Karachi (CBK) for the removal of the bus stand from Saddar.
The petitioners’ counsel, Abrar Hasan and Syed Masroor Ahmed Alvi, submitted that the bus operators were allowed to park their vehicles in and around Saddar by the CBK.
He also produced in court the monthly parking receipts of the CBK and stated that now it had directed them to remove the bus stand.
He said the petitioners had at the moment no other place to park their vehicles.
The bench directed its office to put the DIG for traffic on notice for the next date, and adjourned the hearing to Oct 10.