Raze Navy Sailing Club to the ground in three weeks, orders IHC

Justice Minallah declares club’s construction illegal: Remarks Navy has no authority to join any real estate venture: Orders criminal and military proceedings against ex-navy chief Admiral Zafar Abbasi and others for setting up club

By: News Desk
Published: 10:13 AM, 7 Jan, 2022
Raze Navy Sailing Club to the ground in three weeks, orders IHC
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The Islamabad High Court has ordered to raze to the ground Pakistan Navy’s sailing club along Rawal Lake in Islamabad, reported 24NewsHD TV channel.

Announcing the verdict on Friday which was reserved a day earlier, IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah declared the construction of the Navy’s sailing club and farmhouses as illegal.

The chief judge ordered to bring down the sailing club within three weeks and submit a report in the court.

In the judgment, Justice Athar Minallah remarked that it was not in Navy’s powers to undertake any real estate venture. Neither it was in Capital Development Authority’s (CDA) powers to issue a no-objection certificate (NOC) for building naval farmhouses.

He added that the navy did not have the authority to undertake real estate ventures and that the name of the entity cannot be used for real estate business.

The court also issued orders to initiate criminal and military proceedings against former naval chief Admiral Zafar Mahmood Abbasi and others involved in setting up the ‘illegal’ 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 institutions cannot be used for real estate 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 the National Park land thus making the club illegal.

“If you receive a request for the issuance of an NOC either to an illegal housing society or a naval sailing club, you should throw away the petition right at the outset,”  Justice Minallah admonished the CDA.

“The sailing club is illegal, and therefore, it should be demolished in three weeks,” the IHC judge said.

The IHC CJ also directed the CDA to take over the Navy farmhouses land within two weeks and submit a report.

The court has also told the auditor-general to prepare an audit of the club and estimate the losses suffered by the national exchequer.

On Thursday, the court had reserved its verdict on the petition filed by citizen Zeenat Saleem against the naval farmhouses and the sailing club built in the federal capital.

During the hearing when the CJ asked member Estate, Capital Development Authority (CDA) whether the department he was representing would issue an NOC to the IHC judges if they wanted to do any business, the member replied that no such permission could be granted if it was not sanctioned by the law.

Justice Minallah asked the member Estate whether the Navy’s sailing club was still sealed. “Yes it is,” replied the latter. 

The CJ again asked the CDA official what step the Authority would take if an NOC granted to any housing society stood cancelled. 

He replied that in that case the CDA would take the society into its possession. “We will also seal the management offices of illegal housing societies,” he responded.    

Justice Minallah then questioned, “In this case, will you lock up the naval headquarters as well?”

“If you receive a request for the issuance of an NOC either to an illegal housing society or a naval sailing club, you should throw away the petition right at the outset,” he remarked.

He expressed his annoyance as to why the authority did not take any action against the construction activities taking place in the vicinity of Rawal Lake.

The sailing club has been sealed since July 2020.

In 2020, Zeenat Saleem, a resident of Islamabad, had filed a petition against the club in the Islamabad High Court. She said that the construction of a commercial building in the Islamabad National Park is illegal.

The Rawal Dam provides water to the entire city of Rawalpindi and a club near the lake will contaminate it, her petition stated.

Later that year, the court started hearing the case. The counsel of the club had argued that in 1991, the government had allotted the land to the Pakistan Navy for sailing practice.

A final decision in the case was, however, not taken because of prolonged gaps in the hearings. Until then, the court had imposed a restriction on the construction of the club and sealed it.

Reporter Ihtesham Kiani