THE URGE OF STATE INSTITUTIONS TO ACT AS A STATE WITHIN THE STATE IS OBVIOUS: IHC

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In a 105 pages detailed judgment of the Margalla hills case, Islamabad High Court has declared the construction of the Military RVF directorate and naval golf club illegal. In a detailed judgment penned by Chief Justice Islamabad High Court Athar Minallah, it is declared that “The RVF Directorate nor the GHQ have the legal status under the Constitution or the law to own State-owned land. The Pakistan Army nor any other branch of the Armed Forces can claim the ownership of the land allocated by the Federal Government for its use.”

The detailed verdict further reads that “The stance of the GHQ or the RVF Directorate regarding the 8602 acres of land situated in the Margalla Hills is atrocious and in violation of the scheme of the Constitution and the applicable laws. The acts and stance of the RFV Directorate and the GHQ of the Pakistan Army have profound consequences for the rule of law. They acted on their own and while doing so they have seriously undermined the rule of law in derogation to their declared functions under the Constitution.”

By expressing disappointment over the conduct of state institutions, IHC stated that “It is disturbing to note that the enforced laws are being flagrantly violated by institutions in disregard to the scheme contemplated under the Constitution. The urge of State institutions to act as a state within the state is obvious from the above-discussed facts. The authorities entrusted with statutory powers to guard against violations seem to be helpless or complacent.”

In its detailed written order, Islamabad High Court also noted that State institutions failed to protect the fundamental rights of citizens and public functionaries did not perform their core duty, “The proceedings before the Court were indeed disturbing because they have established a lack of political will to protect the rights of the citizens by allowing the destruction of Margalla Hills and thus irretrievably harming the native flora and fauna. The neglect or willful disregard of institutions and public functionaries to perform their fundamental duty to implement the enforced laws and prevent their violation and abuse has already caused irretrievable damage to the natural habitats, ecosystem services and the biodiversity.”

The written judgment declared the naval golf course illegal and stated that the “Pakistan Navy took the law into its own hands by illegally encroaching the area notified under the Margalla Hills for establishing the unlawful Navy Golf Course. It is evident from the material brought on record that the CDA had repeatedly sent notices directing the management of the Pakistan Navy to hand over the illegally encroached area but to no avail.”

Islamabad High Court also mentioned another important point that “There is no provision under the afore mentioned laws which authorizes or empowers the Pakistan Army to undertake, directly or indirectly, activities beyond its composition for the purposes of welfare, unless the Federal Government has expressly granted permission to do so. As a corollary, the Pakistan Army has no power nor jurisdiction to, directly or indirectly, engage in business ventures of any nature outside its composition nor to claim the ownership of state land.”

The short judgment was issued on January 11, 2022.