ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) on Thursday issued a contempt notice to Chief Minister Sindh Murad Ali Shah over his failure as chief executive to implement its order in letter and spirit, approving the design of development work for the Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) project.
A three-member bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Gulzar Ahmed and comprising Justice Ijazul Ahsanand Justice Muneeb Akhtar, heard a suo moto case, relating to the colossal losses incurred by the Pakistan Railways (PR) as well as revival of Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) project.
On last hearing, the court had served contempt notices upon Railways Secretary Habibur Rehman Gillani and Chief Secretary Sindh Syed Mumtaz Ali Shah for an apparent delay in the completion of the KCR project. The court had observed that both the officials committed contempt of court while not implementing its order and directed them to state as to why the Karachi Circular Railway was not yet made operational.
Similarly, the court also summoned FWO DG in-person on the next date of hearing. Explaining as to why the project was not yet made operational. On Thursday, during the course of the proceedings, Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed observed that the Karachi Circular Railways project was required to be completed within a period of two months. The CJP noted that the overhead bridge and some other work was to be completed.
He asked director general of Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) as to why it did not begin work on the instant project. The official replied that although they had sent the design to the provincial government, but it was not yet approved, adding that the contract for constructing underpasses was also not awarded by the provincial government.
The chief justice however, observed that it’s a public interest project, hence it should be completed at the earliest and complete the project in Rs5 billion as the underpass bridges do not require Rs10 billion.
Addressing Railways Secretary, the chief justice asked him as to whether he wants third notice to be issued, as earlier he got two notices. “You have to write down everything in the report”, Justice Ijazul Ahsan asked Secretary Railways.
The chief justice observed that Railways Secretary was not providing accurate information to the court. When the Railways Secretary tried to say something, the CJP asked him that first he should submit his reply to the show cause notice than he would be heard.
Meanwhile, the court issued contempt notice to Chief Minister Sindh Syed Murad Ali Shah, directing him to submit his reply within a period of two weeks. Similarly, the court also issued show cause notice to Railways Secretary directing him to submit his reply within two weeks and adjourned further hearing.
Initiated in 1964, the old KCR route started from Drigh Road and ended in downtown Karachi. After suffering losses for years, it ceased operations in 1999. The KCR revival project includes the transformation of the old route into a mass transit system with the total length of the railway track expected to be 50 kilometres.
On February 12, the said bench had directed the federal government to complete within two years the rehabilitation and up-gradation of Karachi-Lahore Peshawar (ML-1) Railway track (1,872km) besides completing the KCR in three months.
The court had also directed to clear the five kilometres of Karachi Circular Railway’s land from the encroaches and make the infrastructure functional within a period of three months and in this respect the help of Rangers and police could be sought as well.
Similarly, the court had warned of dire consequences if its order was not complied with in letter and spirt and the ML-1 project was not make fully operation in the stipulated time.
According to the website of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the scope of the project is to doubling of entire track from Karachi to Peshawar, speed of passenger trains to be raise from 65/110 km/h to 160 km/h, Freight trains to operate at 120 km/h, computer based signaling and control system and grade separation to ensure safety of train operations.
Meanwhile, senior PPP leader and former Senator Taj Haider has said that issuance of contempt of court notice to Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah, who has gone into isolation for 12 days after testing positive for COVID-19, is a matter of grave concern.
“Such contempt of court notice draws impression that the courts and their egos are detached from basic humanity,” he said in a statement on Thursday.
Taj Haider said that the precedent, our honorable courts are setting, will not be able to be followed in future jurisprudence of just human societies. He appealed to the apex court to reconsider the contempt of court notice on the grounds that the chief minister, fighting COVID-19, has the right to recover first before fully resuming his official work.