Sunday December 05, 2021

PHC extends stay to hand over Chitral land record

July 10, 2021
PHC extends stay to hand over Chitral land record

PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court (PHC) has extended the order restraining the settlement officer Chitral from handing over the land record to the commissioner Malakand, the deputy commissioners of Upper and Lower Chitral districts and Senior Member Board of Revenue (SMBR).

The two-member PHC bench comprising Justice Lal Jan Khattak and Justice Sahibzada Asadullah extended the restraining order on a writ petition filed in 2019 to challenge the 1975 notification that had declared all the mountains, wastelands and riverbeds as the property of the provincial government. The court ordered the relevant authorities to submit replies in the case and adjourned the hearing.

The residents of Chitral, including former Member National Assembly Iftikharuddin and others, had filed the writ petition. Barrister Asadul Mulk and Mohibullah Terichvi appeared for the petitioners. Asadul Mulk argued before the court that the 1975 notification was contrary to Article 172 (1) of the Constitution. He contended that the 1975 notification was issued pursuant to the Distribution of Property Chitral Regulation 1974. They argued that following the 25th Amendment to the Constitution all regulations issued pursuant to Article 246 and 247 of the Constitution had lapsed. The lawyer said that 97 percent land of Chitral was registered in the name of the provincial government, which was contrary to the provisions of Article 172(1) of the Constitution. He added instead of land settlement, land expropriation was being carried out in Chitral.

Barrister Asadul Mulk stated that there were several statutory and constitutional defects in the 1975 notification. He told the court that the petitioners were not opposed to land settlement but they wanted that due process should be followed. It was argued that the residuary clause in the Chitral Land Dispute Inquiry Commission Report from 1971 notified in the official gazette in 1975 was in conflict with the residuary clause in Article 172 (1) the Constitution of Pakistan and thus liable to be struck down. In April 2021, the PHC chief justice in view of the gravity of the matter had transferred the writ petition from Dar-ul-Qaza Swat to the principal seat of the high court.