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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Supreme court overturns IHC verdict on Monal

Following its closure, plans to convert the restaurant into a visitor's Information Centre for children's education and awareness on wildlife protection were also presented before the senate committee.

The Supreme Court of Pakistan on March 08 overturned Islamabad High Court’s verdict to seal Monal Restaurant. The court proceeding was headed by a three-member bench, comprising Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan, Justice Muneeb Akhtar, and Justice Mazahir Ali Akbar Naqvi, who said that the Islamabad Wildlife Management had sealed Monal without a certified court order of Islamabad High Court (IHC).

“The magistrate had ordered to seal Monal Restaurant without due notice […] the restaurants in the surroundings of Monal were notified before they were sealed,” the court said. Upon inquiry, it was revealed that the counsel representing the restaurant neither had the short order nor the detailed verdict of the IHC.

Justice Ahsan asked the chairperson of the Islamabad Wildlife Management board how they could seal the restaurant without a detailed verdict, to which Justice Naqvi added that don’t you know that “verbal decree has no standing”.

Read more: Watch: Monal employees hold protest against restaurant’s closure

Justice Ahsan further inquired, “How many restaurants have been sealed on Margalla Hills to date?” To which the panel replied that they had served notices to La Montana and Gloria Jeans. “When rest of the restaurants were given [written] notices, then why not Monal?” Replied the judge. After repeated interruptions, the chairperson of IWMB was removed from the rostrum.

IHC gives orders to seal monal

On January 11th, the Islamabad High Court ordered to seal the restaurant as the lease agreement between the restaurant and the Capital Development Authority (CDA) had expired, and its agreement was void and without any legal effect. The CDA lawyers informed the court of the expired agreement, to which the court replied remarked that the dispute would be decided by the concerned civil authority.

Islamabad High Court ordered CDA to seal the restaurant as it was being run in a protected national park – Margalla Hills National Park. Following its closure, plans to convert the restaurant into a visitor’s Information Centre for children’s education and awareness on wildlife protection were also presented before the senate committee. The committee appreciated the IWMB for protecting and conserving the thriving biodiversity and endangered wildlife species of the MHNP.

Read more: Monal Restaurant is Built on Army Land & Army Wants it Back

The hearing was adjourned indefinitely.

Prior to this, in 2019, Capital Development Authority (CDA) Member Planning Dr. Shahid Mahmood told a parliamentary committee that Monal was built on Army lands. He further added that the CDA did not know that it was building the restaurant on army lands until the army started claiming it. The latest survey conducted by the authority revealed that the land allotted to the army is right in the center of the national park, and Monal has been built on it.