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IHC orders de-sealing of PTI’s central secretariat in capital

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ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Tuesday ordered de-sealing of the central secretariat of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) in the G-8 sector of the capital.

IHC Justice Saman Rafat Imtiaz allowed a petition filed by PTI General Secretary Omar Ayub through his counsel Mohammad Shuaib Shaheen.

The PTI had challenged the Capital Development Authority (CDA)’s operation conducted on its secretariat in G-8/4 on May 23. The civic agency had sealed the premises for violation of its bylaws.

In the petition, the PTI termed the operation and sealing of its secretariat “without having lawful authority, malafidely, political victimisation, without adopting due process of law and contrary to the provisions as enunciated under the constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973.”

As per the petition, “Arshad Dad and Naseemur Rehman, both members of PTI central finance board, through an agreement dated 17.07.2020, purchased commercial plot No.1-A, measuring 30 X 48, 160 Sq. Yards situated at shopping centre G-8/4-2, Islamabad, from Sartaj Ali.”

When the seller wrote a letter to the CDA on July 29, 2020, for the transfer of the allotment of plot, the civic agency on July 30, 2020 allotted/transferred the plot in the name of the PTI.

However, “on May 23, 2024, at about 11:15pm, the petitioner through electronic media came to know that the CDA in connivance with the Islamabad police was demolishing the PTI’s head office at the said plot.”

The petitioner requested the CDA and police officials to show any order or notice pertaining to encroachment which had ever been issued. The CDA and police officials instead of showing any order or notice started demolishing the PTI’s head office which was illegal, said the petition.

Counsel for the CDA Hafiz Arafat Ahmed Chaudhry, on the other hand, argued that the premises falls in the category of commercial plots but was found in non-conforming use.

The PTI has constructed additional storeys in violation of the CDA’s building control regulations, he added. According to the counsel, the premise was sealed in accordance with law.

However, Advocate Shaheen contended that “no notice or show-cause notice was ever served upon to the PTI prior to sealing the secretariat.”

The court noted that the sealing order of May 10, 2024 purportedly for violation of building and zoning regulations was issued without prior notice.

Justice Imtiaz observed: “It is clear and apparent that CDA has failed to establish that the sealing of the subject property was carried out after issuance of the mandatory notices and passing of sealing order as per the various provisions of the CDA ordinance and its regulations.”

Subsequently, the judge allowed the petition and directed the CDA to “de-seal the subject property with immediate effect.”

The court however allowed the CDA to “take action strictly in accordance with law in case of any non-conformity or violation of the applicable laws.”