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Friday, April 19, 2024

IHC declares Navy Golf Course in Margalla Hills illegal

The court says army has no power to engage in business ventures, or claim the ownership of state land.

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Wednesday declared the construction of the Navy Golf Course in Margalla Hills illegal.
Following its detailed judgment on the construction in Margalla Hills National Park, the court said the “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.”
Express Tribune reported that “the court instructed the Ministry of Defense to conduct an inquiry into the golf course and directed the secretary of defence to administer a forensic audit to assess the damage to the national exchequer.”
“Since the command and control of the Armed Forces vests in the Federal Government, therefore, no branch can undertake any activity or perform functions outside their respective establishments unless expressly directed or called upon to do so. The unique responsibilities have been prescribed under the Constitution and, therefore, obedience to the provisions ibid and law is an inviolable obligation of every branch and member of the Armed Forces as provided under Article 5,” according to the detailed judgment.
It also rejected the Pakistan Army Directorate’s ownership claim on 8,068 acres of land in the National Park.
The 108-page long decision issued by IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah also declared illegal the lease agreement of the Farms Directorate of the Pakistan Army with Monal Restaurant.

Read More: Supreme court overturns IHC verdict on Monal

It also included a report from the Islamabad Environmental Commission.
It said, “state and government officials had a duty to protect the Margalla Hills.”
“It is the responsibility of the state to take action against those who violate the fundamental rights of the people, however, it is ironic that state institutions are also involved in desecrating the Margalla Hills protected area,” IHC said.
The court maintained that the Pakistan Navy and Pakistan Army had violated the law by taking it into their own hands, adding that it was an ideal case of weakening the rule of law.
According to the IHC, the state must take steps to repair the damage to Margalla Hills to prevent further destruction.
Earlier on January 11, 2022, the court issued a short order declaring the allotment of 8,068 acres of land to the Pakistan Army in the National Park area of Islamabad against the law.
“The claim of Remount, Veterinary and Farms Directorate of Pakistan Army, regarding 8,068 acres of land in the notified National Park area is in violation of the Ordinance of 1979 read with the Ordinance of 1960 and the Master Plan,” a judgment authored by Athar Minallah said.

Read More: First time in Pakistan: Court orders closure of military golf course

“The claim is also not in conformity with the enforced laws applicable to the management of lands for the use of the armed forces. The federal government was bereft of jurisdiction to allow the directorate to use 8,068 acres of land in the notified National Park area,” it stated.