LHC nullifies Ravi Riverfront Urban Development Project

Web Desk
January 25, 2022

Section 4 of RUDA (Amendment) Ordinance 2021 is contradictory to Article 144 of the Constitution of Pakistan, rules court

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Lahore High Court declares Ravi Riverfront Urban Development Project illegal. Photo: file

LAHORE: Declaring Section 4 of Ravi Urban Development Authority (RUDA) (Amendment) Ordinance 2021 illegal and in conflict with the Constitution, the Lahore High Court (LHC) on Tuesday nullified the Ravi Riverfront Urban Development Project (RRUDP).

The LHC announced the verdict on the petitions filed against the project by advocates Sheraz Zaka, Ahmad Rafay Alam and others on behalf of farmers. The petitions challenged the mode and manner of the land acquisition proceedings undertaken by RUDA for RRUDP.

Section 4 of RUDA (Amendment) Ordinance 2021 is contradictory to Article 144 of the Constitution of Pakistan, ruled the court.

"Agricultural land can be acquired only when there is a proper legal framework for it but the land for RRUDP was acquired through a violation of Land Acquisition Act, 1894," the court remarked.

"Lahore and Sheikhupura failed to abide by the law in the land acquisition," the court observed.

The LHC said, while announcing the verdict, that since RRUDP's master plan is the base document, all schemes should fall under the master plan as per the law.

"Hence, any scheme worked upon without [being included in] the master plan is illegal," the court ruled.

The case

The petitioners had questioned the legality of forceful acquisitions of land for commercial purposes under the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, while some of them questioned the legality of the Environment Impact Assessment of the project prepared by an unregistered consultant.

The petitioners' counsels objected that if the project was bereft of an environmental impact assessment, how could it be presumed to be of public interest. They argued that the project would deprive the farmers of their precious land and such deprivation was an infringement of fundamental rights.

At this, the LHC had stayed the process of land acquisition for the project for not meeting the legal requirements and environmental laws.

However, the government of Punjab was of the view that since the RUDA (Amendment) Ordinance 2021 was passed to cover legal infirmities, the stay orders granted by the court and the petitions against the project stood infructuous.

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