SHC orders inquiry into illegal extraction of limestone from 200 acres land

By Jamal Khurshid
June 23, 2024
A view of facade of the Sindh High Court building in Karachi. — AFP/File

The Sindh High Court (SHC) has ordered an inquiry into illegal extraction of limestone by a mining company on 200 acres of land in Thatta and Jamshoro despite termination of its mining contract since 2016.


The direction came on a petition of Zeeshan Younus who challenged a notification of the mines and mineral department issued on November 27, 2018 whereby, purportedly, a notification or a permission to extract limestone from an area of 200 acres near Ghogharo goth in Thatta and Jamshoro districts was cancelled.

The petitioner had submitted that the permission to extract limestone was granted to him for a period of two years on July 2, 2009 over an area of 200 acres from the land, which was extended by another notification in March 2011 for further five years.

A division bench of the SHC headed by Justice Mohammad Shafi Siddiqui after hearing the arguments of the counsel and perusal of the record observed that the petitioner had not demonstrated if any of the earlier notification and/or its extension for any period for extraction of limestone was a transparent process followed by public notices.

The high court observed that a notification of March 2011 renewed the permission for another five years, apparently that ended somewhere in March 2016 and yet the petitioner continued to occupy the land.

The SHC observed that in 2018, a notification was issued whereby alleged permission to extract limestone was declined as the authority refused to renew the mining permit of limestone over the said area and the petitioner continued to occupy the same since 2009 till date.

The bench observed that no record was produced to show that the process of awarding the permit to extract limestone was transparent.

The high court observed that it was the primary consideration of the petitioner that a notice ought to have been followed after a conclusion of notification of March 2011 which extended the permission / licence of five years and such notification described the period to be ending in January 2016.

The court observed that on the pretext of an application/obligation for the extension of licence/permit, the petitioner continued to occupy the land.

The judges observed that they were not inclined to agree that since they had been depositing the challan/fee, on their own, this would give them a right to occupy the land as the amount of fee was being deposited without the permission of the authority concerned.

The SHC observed that no sooner the renewed licence expired somewhere in March 2016, the status of the petitioner could only be seen as that of a trespasser under the Easement Act as permission alone did not bestow any right under the law.

The SHC observed that this licence could have been cancelled even during its subsistence and the petitioner had presented the case for which the court could not exercise discretion in their favour as they continued to occupy and enjoy the land as being a trespasser for the extraction of limestone.

The bench observed that their original occupation over the land was also not shown to be transparent which called for a detailed inquiry against officers concerned responsible for such affairs.

Disposing of the petition, the SHC directed the ministry concerned to take immediate steps to retrieve the land from the petitioner and submit a report in one week’s time. The SHC also ordered an inquiry with regard to illegal occupation of the government land by the petitioner.