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June 20, 2021

Nasla Tower: SC directs commissioner to remove occupants, expedite demolition

KARACHI: The Supreme Court on Saturday directed commissioner Karachi to remove all occupants from the Nasla Tower situated at Sindhi Muslim Cooperative Housing Society, after taking possession of the building and complete the demolition of building as expeditiously as possible.

The direction came in detailed order on application filed by the owners of Nasla Tower with a request that SMCHS may be declared in possession of the layout plan of blocks A and B of SMCHS and notice be issued to them and KMC for the layout plan. The court also issued notice to the owners of Nasla Tower to examine the legality of the tower encroaching the service road.

The SC’s three member bench headed by Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed observed in their order that plot 193-A measuring 780 square yards bearing survey No 242 survey sheet Stratchen Quarters was allotted to Nusrat Ali on December 23, 1950 and later to his widow Mustafai Begum who entered into lease agreement on March 12, 1955 with SMCHS. The court observed that in 1957 the main road proposed to be 280 ft wide was realigned reducing its width to 240 ft and the excess 40 ft (20 ft on each side) was allotted to SMCHS on December 27, 1957 by the Chief Commissioner Karachi and subsequently to Mustafai Begum extending the area of the plot to 1,044 square yards without incorporating the additional land either in the original/amended lease nor in any subsequent lease deed. The court observed that present owner of the plot ultimately acquired it by way of conveyance deed executed in 2015.

The court observed that it appears that plot was meant for residential purposes but following a decision of City District Government Karachi, an additional 77 square yards of SMCHS was allotted to the owners following payment of commercialization fee on February 15, 2010. The court observed that a report from Mukhtiarkar Ferozabad stated that SMCHS and the owners of the Nasla Tower through construction on blocked the service road.

The court inquired the counsel of the building to explain as how the registered lease to the original owner of the plot could confer and or transfer rights on an area beyond 780 square yards. The counsel submitted that then chief commissioner Karachi agreed to do so on payment of full market price. He argued that said letters confer title/leasehold rights on the additional land. The court rejected the argument and observed that letters and certificates issued by the SMCHS regarding increase from 780 square yards to 1,044 square yards are also of no legal consequence to confer title or leasehold rights to the original allottees or the subsequent leases/purchasers.

The court observed that there was no denial that the unilateral increase in the area was achieved by encroaching the service road and the tower exists on area in excess of what was originally leased. The court observed that commissioner Karachi has also categorically stated that all excess area measuring 341 square yards occupied by Nasla Tower building is encroached.

The court observed that after examination of entire record and scrutinizing the reports submitted there was no doubt that tower was constructed on encroached land which amongst other things also blocked the service road. The court observed that being illegal construction where a service road has also been blocked the same tower was liable to be demolished. The court directed commissioner Karachi to demolish the high rise building Nasla Tower after removing all occupants and submit report before court in next session of the court. The court directed that owners of the building shall refund the price of shops, residential units and other areas sold to the registered owners within three months.

The court observed that in case of delay the claimants may claim markup/profit at the bank rate together with damages and may initiate proceedings for implementation of the court order before court of competent jurisdiction.