Sindh govt top guns summoned

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KARACHI: The Supreme Court has issued a written order on contempt petition regarding non-implementation of the order to pay compensation to affectees of Gujjar and other nullahs.

The court ordered former CM Murad Ali Shah, Mayor Karachi Murtaza Wahab, chief secretary, commissioner and the advocate general to appear in person on Thursday (today).

The apex court had directed the provincial government in its 2021 decision to immediately rehabilitate the Gujjar, Orangi and Mehmoodabad nullahs, and Karachi Circular Railway project affectees. Civil society organisations have filed a contempt petition against the provincial government for not following the SC verdict.

The verdict by the then chief justice had ordered the provincial government to rehabilitate and resettle the affectees of all the above-mentioned projects immediately, directing that they should be provided with alternative housing, for which an ad-hoc independent commission be formed.

On Thursday, a special bench comprising Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar and Justice Syed Hasan Azhar Rizvi at the Supreme Court, Karachi Registry, heard the contempt of court petition.

Faisal Siddiqui Advocate, the petitioner’s lawyer, submitted that the Supreme Court passed the final order on October 25, 2021.

Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar remarked that why contempt of court application was filed?

Faisal Siddiqui Advocate took a stand and said that two years have passed but not a single person has got a house. Sindh government had agreed to compensate the affectees. The petitioner’s lawyer took the position saying that no work was done and therefore the court has been approached.

Justice Mazhar inquired whether any report of the chief secretary was submitted? The court remarked that the chief minister of Sindh will leave after completing his term in a couple of days.

Faisal Siddiqui advocate stated that four cheques were to be distributed to the victims for rent in two years but only two were given. The court had ordered Sindh government to submit a monthly report in this regard.

Justice Mazhar inquired whether monthly report has been submitted. Now the situation has changed and the caretaker chief minister has come. The deadline has expired and now this matter has become serious.

Justice Mazhar said why chief secretary and commissioner has not been made party. The Sindh government has not yet submitted any report. People whose houses were vacated are facing difficulties.

The order of the Supreme Court needs to be implemented. If the caretaker government comes in a few days, reply will be sought from the relevant parties.

Justice Mazhar inquired whether the victims contacted the Sindh government. Is there a focal person in this case? Because how will poor people directly contact the chief minister? A poor man cannot enter the CM House.

While the hearing was on in the court, Orangi and Gujjar nullah affectees gatghered outside the Supreme Court Karachi Registry to lodge their protest.

The affecttees said that the Sindh government had promised to pay 15,000 per month as rent for two years. But, the payment stopped after issuing two cheques. They demanded that they should be included in the resettlement committee.

Time lapse

Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar commented, “Why has the request for contempt of court been filed after such a long delay?”

The lawyer representing the petitioner stated in his position that the request for contempt of court has been filed with almost a two-year delay. Not a single task has been accomplished, nor has any affected party been assisted. The court had ordered the Sindh government to submit a monthly report on this matter. Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar remarked, “Has the monthly report been submitted? By the Sindh government?” The situation has now changed, and the caretaker chief minister has assumed office.

The given time limit has expired, and now this matter has become serious. Justice Mazhar commented, “Why hasn’t the Chief Secretary and Commissioner of Karachi formed a team? The court had also ordered the Sindh government to collect a monthly report.” The Sindh government has not yet submitted any report. Those who have been evacuated from their homes are facing difficulties.

Justice Mazhar said, “Murad Ali Shah can come and say that I am no longer the CM, and during my tenure, I made every effort but couldn’t achieve practical implementation. We want to implement the Supreme Court’s orders. Now, I expect that the caretaker government will come, and we will seek answers from the relevant teams.”

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