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October 26, 2015

Jewish trust given time to review nazir’s report on property status


October 26, 2015

The counsel of a Jewish Trust was granted time by the Sindh High Court (SHC) to file comments over a report of the Nazir regarding the current ownership status of the Trust’s property, on which once stood the Magen Shalom Synagogue.
The synagogue was, however, demolished some time in the 1980s for the construction of a shopping mall.
The Bene Israel Trust had filed a petition last year, claiming the property laying within the 1,109 square yard land, situated in the Ranchore Line Quarters, allotted to the trust, was exclusively allotted for their place of worship. The petitioner had through its attorney submitted the pre-partition era land was being looked after by the Trust, whereas the property in question was officially declared the Trust’s property.
The counsel alleged that trustee Rachel Joseph, in violation of the prevailing laws, regarding sale and transfer of properties allocated to minority communities, executed certain conveyance deeds in favour of private respondents Aftabuddin Qureshi and Ahmed Elahi.
The court was prayed to restrain the trustees from transferring the property for commercial and residential use under the Protection of Communal Properties of Minorities Ordinance, 2001, as well as declare the trust as the sole owner of the property.
The private respondent, however, justified their right of ownership, maintaining, that Rachel, since she was the only trustee, had entered into the agreement of sale in 1988 for half of the property, to the sale consideration of Rs4.4 million, while the rest of the portion was sold to other private respondents after removal of the ‘old and dilapidated’ structure built on it.
The law officer of the defunct city district government Karachi (CDGK) also submitted his comments, mentioning that according to the record of rights the plot RC-3 was indeed leased out for a synagogue, for a period of 51 years in 1880s; the lease was then renewed on February 18, 1935 in the

name of the Bene Israel Trust which had 11 trustees at the time.
However, the law officer stated that a specific purpose for the use of the land was not mentioned in the right of record and the plot in question was not meant for worship place.
The court had on a previous hearing appointed its Nazir to inspect the site and submit a report with respect to the property’s and the Trust’s management affairs.
According to his report, two multi-storey buildings were situated on the property site, which were being used for both commercial and residential purposes. He also placed a record of residents housed in the buildings.
The court after taking the Nazir report on record adjourned the hearing till November 11 on request of the petitioner counsel who sought time to go through the Nazir report and file reply or objection till next date of hearing.

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