Margala Hills case: Army cannot do commercial activities outside its jurisdiction: IHC

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Pakistan’s military is not authorized or empowered to carry out commercial activities outside its domain for welfare purposes, unless expressly permitted by the federal government, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Wednesday told Margalla Hills National Issued a detailed decision in a case related to encroachment in the park. ,

In January, IHC ordered Capital authorities to seal the Monal restaurant and take control of the Margalla Greens golf club on the encroached land. It also declared the army’s claim over 8,000 acres of Margala Hills National Park illegal.

Decision to seal Monal restaurant later Suspended Supreme Court in March

In a 108-page detailed judgment of the case released today, IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah said the Pakistan Army Act, 1952, the Air Force Act, 1953 and the Pakistan Navy Ordinance, 1961, have been promulgated to regulate the respective branches of the armed forces. Had gone. and his discipline.

“The Pakistan Army has no power or jurisdiction to engage directly or indirectly in commercial undertakings of any nature outside its structure, nor to claim ownership of state lands,” the judgment said. and act in aid of civil power when asked to do so.

,[Neither] Neither the Army of Pakistan nor its officers are directly or indirectly authorized or mandated to carry out any activity, such as leasing of government land for commercial purpose,” the judgment said.

The detailed judgment regarding the army’s claim of 8,000 acres said that it cannot own or acquire land given for its own use other than those provided under the Constitution and related laws.

,[Neither] Neither the Pakistan Army nor any other branch of the Armed Forces can claim ownership of land allotted for its use by the federal government.”

The judgment said that the army’s stand regarding the claimed acres is “atrocious and in violation of the plan of the Constitution and applicable laws”.

“It is pertinent to note that the applicable laws are being openly violated by the institutions in defiance of the scheme contemplated under the Constitution.

The decision states, “The desire of state institutions to function as a state within a state is evident from the facts discussed above.”

It said the army’s actions and stance had “serious consequences” for the rule of law. “He acted on his own and in so doing he has seriously undermined the rule of law in defiance of his declared functions under the Constitution.

“The sanctity of the protected and protected notified area of ​​Margalla Hills has been desecrated,” the judgment said.

The Chief Justice criticized state institutions for their “deliberate and open-handed disregard and abuse of applicable laws”.

“The complacency of state institutions in the degradation of the environment and their willful disregard for applicable laws is evident during these proceedings, while accountability seems to be isolated to the regime prevailing within 1400 square miles of the Islamabad capital region,” he observed. ,

Justice Minallah observed that the cases on which the judgment was based and their proceedings symbolize the role of state institutions in undermining the rule of law and refusing to protect the property of the people.

Regarding Margalla Hills, the judgment stated that the Capital Development Authority (CDA) does not have the power or jurisdiction to interfere in matters relating to them and thus, commercial activities such as construction of buildings and food shops are in violation of the relevant laws. .

“Sadly, most of the illegal encroachments in the notified area of ​​Margala Hills have been committed by government institutions/entities like Pakistan Navy, Pakistan Air Force etc. The CDA was either satisfied or seemed helpless,” the judgment said.

navy golf club

Regarding the Navy’s golf course, known as the Margalla Greens Golf Club, the judgment stated that the Navy was allotted a sector in the foothills of the Margalla mountain range to establish “residential and official accommodation”. .

“Without obtaining approval from the competent authorities… the Pakistan Navy took the law into its own hands by illegally encroaching upon the notified area under Margalla Hills for the establishment of an illegal Navy Golf Course.

“It is evident from the material brought on record that the CDA had repeatedly sent notices to the management of the Pakistan Navy directing them to hand over the illegally encroached area, but to no avail,” the judgment said.

It said it was undisputed that the Navy had established the golf club on land outside the area allotted for its use and that its status was “accepted illegal encroachment”.

Regarding the argument that the land was taken over for security reasons, the judgment said: “This argument is misleading as no one can claim to be above the law nor has anyone been given a license to violate the applicable laws.” It is the duty of the State to provide security and the establishment of golf courses in contravention of the law on the pretext of security cannot be justified by any imagination.”

It said that the Navy officers involved in the case exposed themselves to disciplinary proceedings and attracted criminal liability.

With no legal explanation given for the encroachment and golf club construction, the verdict declared it illegal and ordered its withdrawal.