LHC restrains authorities from further demolition of Khokhar Palace
Declaring demolition of Khokhar Palace in Lahore illegal, the Lahore High Court (LHC) on Tuesday restrained the authorities from carrying out further demolition of the palace, until further orders from the civil court which had earlier granted a stay in the case, reported 24NewsHD TV channel.
The court also ordered the district administration to vacate the palace forthwith.
However, at the same time, the court also barred Khokhar brothers from again building structures on the disputed land.
When Chief Justice Muhammad Qasim Khan inquired as to under which law the operation was carried out, counsel for the government replied that the land retrieved belonged to the state.
Later, when counsel for Khokhar brothers presented to the court the stay order issued by the civil court, the judge asked as to why the order was not brought to the court’s notice earlier.
He asked counsel for the government why the authorities were in a rush when there already existed a stay order.
The Lahore Development Authority (LDA) had on Sunday (January 24) completed a grand operation at Khokhar Palace in Johar Town to retrieve 38 kanals of state land, demolishing three houses and several shops in the process.
Khokhar brothers, PML-N leaders, however, claimed that the government’s action was politically motivated as the Lahore High Court (LHC) had issued a restraining order on the issue.
But the district administration, armed with heavy machinery and a large number of policemen, reached Khokhar Palace, the residence of PML-N MPA Afzal Khokhar and Saif-ul-Malook Khokhar, on Sunday morning.
They cordoned off all the roads leading to the place by placing containers.
The district administration claimed that they had retrieved land worth 1.25 billion rupees and the operation was carried out after several notices were served and after the decision of Collector Ishtimal.
As many as 13 shops and several temporary huts had been demolished with the use of heavy machinery.
The LDA machinery bulldozed the back gate and wall of the Khokhar Palace and also razed to the ground the adjacent Saif Market, which was according to authorities was illegal and built on state land.
The authorities also demolished the rear portion of a house belonging to Saif-ul-Malook’s nephew. They also brought down the rear portion of Muhammad Akmal Khokhar’s house.