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Thursday June 30, 2022

Court order to raze Frere Hall garden gates suspended

June 23, 2022

The Sindh High Court’s (SHC) appellate bench on Wednesday suspended a single SHC bench’s order to demolish concrete structures recently erected around the Frere Hall’s garden.

The interim order came on an appeal filed by the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) against the demolition of concrete gates around the Frere Hall garden and the issuance of a show-cause notice to the city administrator.

The appellant counsel said that the interim order was issued by a single SHC bench on the lawsuit of an architect challenging the construction of gates around the Frere Hall garden. He said that a single judge passed a mandatory injunction without a notice for the demolition of the concrete structures that were part of a beautification exercise being carried out by the KMC, as according to the settled law, it could have been done only after due notice.

He also said an arch was being raised by the KMC as part of its efforts for beautifying the Frere Hall garden. He added that not only was a demolition order issued ex-parte but a show-cause notice was also issued to the Karachi administrator, along with a restraining order in regard to all the heritage sites and buildings in the city.

The counsel said that no court order was violated by the administrator, and no occasion had arisen for him to show cause, adding that the relief granted in the impugned order was never pleaded by the respondent in the plaint.

He said that now contempt proceedings had been initiated against the KMC for violating court orders, and he sought the suspension of the single SHC bench’s order. The respondent’s counsel waived notice on behalf of his client and sought time to file a reply.

After the preliminary hearing of the appeal, an SHC division bench comprising Justice Mohammad Junaid Ghaffar and Justice Amjad Ali Sahito issued notices to the provincial government, the heritage department and others for July 15.

The court in the meantime directed the KMC to maintain the status quo in respect of the constructions being carried out, while no further demolition will be carried out as directed in the impugned order.

The court also suspended the impugned show-cause notice against the city administrator and the restraining order with regard to his intrusion in any heritage building or site. Plaintiff Marvi Mazhar, a heritage architect, had challenged the construction work at the Frere Hall by the KMC, terming it to be in violation of the Sindh Cultural Heritage (Prevention) Act 1994. She had requested the court to declare the construction work illegal and in violation of the heritage laws.

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