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October 4, 2012

PHC CJ orders removal of all buildings from Shahi Bagh


October 4, 2012

PESHAWAR: In order to revive the historic Shahi Bagh in its original form, the Peshawar High Court (PHC) on Wednesday ordered removal of all buildings constructed on its land.
These buildings include Arbab Niaz Cricket Stadium, Pakistan Tennis Club and the office of the District Coordination Officer along with Funland, Purdah Bagh, Pakiza Function Hut and wedding halls.
A two-member bench comprising Chief Justice Dost Muhammad Khan and Justice Shahjehan Khan Akhunzada directed all the relevant government departments to stop their work from today in the buildings built at the Shahi Bagh
However, the bench granted six months to the Education Department to shift the Government College for Boys and Municipal Girls College and School to other locations. The bench also dismissed an application of Federation of International Football Association (FIFA) seeking withdrawal of the court’s order on the ban on the construction of an international football stadium at Shahi Bagh. The FIFA legal counsel Gohar Rehman submitted to the court that land for the football stadium had been allotted by the provincial government and the FIFA had spent Rs50 million on its construction.
The counsel said the stadium’s construction had been banned but other activities were being carried out at the Shahi Bagh in various buildings despite the court’s order that these be removed. He claimed original structure of the Shahi Bagh did not exist on record.
The chief justice observed that under the Heritage Act when a garden or other historic place became 100 years old, “it automatically acquires the status of national heritage.” The Education Department’s section officer litigation informed the bench that the Government College was set up in Shahi Bagh in 1961. He said around 8,000 students were getting education there and it would be difficult for the government to shift the college to another place.
The chief justice remarked that several government departments

were earning handsomely from the Shahi Bagh in the name of providing entertainment to the people. The then chief justice, now judge of Supreme Court, Ijaz Afzal Khan, had taken suo motu notice of the issue in 2010 on an application sent by a social worker, Shakeel Waheedullah Khan, about the plight of different parks in the provincial capital. He later converted the application into a writ petition.
Another citizen Mohammad Ali also filed an application to request the court to stay construction of the stadium by the government with the support of FIFA at the Shahi Bagh. He said Shahi Bagh previously spread over 610 kanals had been reduced to a small piece of land, that too full of waste.
On November 4, 2011 a division bench headed by the then PHC Chief Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan passed a strict order for revival of the historic garden and asked the secretaries concerned to submit revival plan of Shahi Bagh in its original form. However, the government departments failed to present the revival plan and implement the court’s order. Instead, changes are being made to the historic garden by erecting a number of buildings there.

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