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Monday June 24, 2024

Govt’s comments on framing of rules for building control law sought

By Jamal Khurshid
May 16, 2024
The Sindh High Court building in Karachi. — SHC Website/File
The Sindh High Court building in Karachi. — SHC Website/File

The Sindh High Court (SHC) has directed the provincial government to submit comments about the framing of rules for the Sindh Building Control Ordinance (SBCO) and about the Sindh Master Plan Department.

The direction came on a petition against the non-framing of the SBCO’s rules, and the conversion of residential land for commercial purposes. Petitioner Tariq Mansoor Advocate said that rules as regards building, planning, construction, demolition and disposal have not been framed for the SBCO despite a lapse of 42 years.

He said the Karachi Building & Town Planning Regulations (KBTPR), 2002, had also unlawfully incorporated the change of land use and commercialisation mechanism, allowing the conversion and commercialisation of land without proper town planning and upgrade of civic amenities and infrastructure, which was severally affecting public amenities and residential neighbourhoods.

He also said the SBCO did not intend or authorise the change of land use and conversion of residential land as per the original master plan of the Karachi Development Authority. But contrary to it, he added, the framers of the KBTPR had prima facie acted in excess of their jurisdiction, and themselves included the change of land use and commercialisation chapter, which was inconsistent with the ordinance.

The petitioner said that the Supreme Court had also banned unlawful commercialisation and change of land use. He requested that the SHC direct the government to frame the building, planning, construction, control, demolition and disposal rules.

He also requested that the SHC declare the town planning regulations with regard to the change of land use and commercialisation as unlawful and in contravention of the parent Act. He also requested that the SHC direct the civic bodies to enforce the SC’s directives against unlawful constructions and change of land use for commercial purposes in all the residential neighbourhoods of the city.

He asked the SHC to direct the government to bring the provisions of the SBCO and town planning regulations in accordance with the teachings of Islam to the extent of enforcement of rights of neighbourhood in the religion.

The local government additional chief secretary filed a statement about the framing of rules. The petitioner, however, said that the rules submitted by the department were not within the spirit of Section 21 of the SBCO 1979, particularly regarding the amendment in the SBCO as rules specifically working on special courts and procedure.

The Sindh Building Control Authority’s counsel said the department would deliberate on the issue and submit rules as well as amendments in the SBCO 1979 within 15 days through the relevant department for approval.

The Sindh Master Plan Authority’s counsel said the master plan department was in process of formulating laws. The provincial law officer said the assembly is willing to pass legislation on the issue, and it is expected to be done after completing all the codal formalities within the stipulated time.

A division bench headed by Justice Salahuddin Panhwar said that the rules, if any, cannot exist against the parent law in violation of the principles and provisions laid down in the SBCO, and that the department would also examine the inconformity of those rules in the Act.

The court ordered that officials would also deliberate on the issue and place proposals before the law department in view of the guidelines provided by the SHC and the SC as well as the laws existing in other provinces, if any.

The petitioner also highlighted Section 7-B of the SBCO that relates to town planning, and provides that the authority should draw up a master plan for all the districts of the province. The court directed the law department to ensure that legislation is finalised within the parameters through the local government, and to submit a compliance report by August 12.