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Tuesday June 25, 2024

Top court orders to close all Margalla Hills restaurants

Supreme Court has also ordered the closure of Monal Restaurant

By Arfa Feroz Zake
June 11, 2024
View of the Supreme Court building. — APP/File
View of the Supreme Court building. — APP/File

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Tuesday ordered to close all the restaurants established on the federal capital's Margalla Hills National Park, including the Monal Restaurant. 

The directives came in response to a March 11 court order in which it had sought the complete record of the land ownership of the restaurant.

A three-member bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa, heard the petitions filed by Monal Restaurant, established in the Margalla Hills, as well as the Wildlife Department.

Earlier on March 8, the apex court ordered the de-sealing of the eatery after suspending the Islamabad High Court (IHC) verdict.

The court had asked the Capital Development Authority (CDA) to furnish original records about the 8,600 acres of the MHPN land.

The additional attorney general had informed the court that the Military Estate Office claims the land as military-owned.

However, the chief justice observed that there is no military-owned land; the land belongs to the government of Pakistan. He said that a simple question has been asked whether it is owned by the CDA or by someone else.

During the hearing today, the top court summoned the CDA chairman on an immediate basis while rejecting the report submitted by the regulator.

CJP Isa said that the court had sought the details of Monal and other restaurants from the CDA.

At this, a CDA lawyer said that they have provided a report which contains all the details of all constructions in Margalla Hills National Park.

The CJP said that a sports club, Pak-China Friendship Centre and Arts Council National Monument are also included in the CDA report.

"Is this the CDA's honesty?" questioned the chief justice, asking whether the SC building also falls under the jurisdiction of the national park.

The lawyer said that he would have to look at the map to answer this question.

"The world knows how many restaurants there are besides Monal except the CDA," CJP Isa remarked, questioning whether the CDA's office is also located in the national park.

He questioned how many times the Margalla Hills have caught fire, to this, the CDA chairman said 21 times this season.

The Supreme Court then also directed all other restaurants in the National Park including Monal to relocate within the three-month period.

In its remarks, the court said that its aim is to ensure the protection of the National Park. It added that apart from National Park, the unnecessary notices issued to all other restaurants are terminated.

The court said that it is only focusing on the National Park. "All the leases granted to restaurants located in National Park are declared null and void," said the court.

CJP Isa also ordered that all the commercial activities in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa's National Park should be stopped.

The Supreme Court said it will issue the written order of the Monal restaurant case later.