ISLAMABAD: The law ministry and the Federal Shariat Court (FSC) are at an impasse over possession of the court’s old building in Islamabad.
In 1980, the law ministry had temporary provided its old building on Margalla Road in F-6/3 to the FSC so that the courts could become operational.
After the establishment of FSC’s own building at Constitution Avenue, the ministry took possession of the building and established an office for the Access to Justice Programme, explained an official close to the development.
In 2015, after the Supreme Court ordered the capital’s top civic body to remove commercial offices from residential areas, the ministry closed the office in compliance with court’s orders, but kept possession of the building.
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In the meanwhile, on July 1, 2016 the FSC registrar declared the old building as the official residence of its chief justice through a notification which irked the law ministry, according to documents available with The Express Tribune.
The document shows that after issuing the notification, FSC Registrar Bin Yamin wrote a letter to the law secretary on August 24 asking that possession of the building be given to the courts on August 29, on the basis of the notification he himself had issued.
Similarly, the registrar also informed the local police to depute officials at the house on August 29 so the FSC could get possession.
On the other hand, the ministry seems uninterested in turning over possession as law officials said the building is owned by the ministry. Law Ministry Administration Joint secretary Gulzar Hussain Shah wrote a reply to the FSC registrar on Friday in which documented proof is provided to show that the property belongs to the law ministry, which has “absolute possession”.
According to Capital Development Authority records, the building was allotted to Ghulam Mustafa, a section officer at the ministry.
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A senior ministry official told The Express Tribune that the building was temporary provided to the FSC till their own building was ready and that the ministry also owns other buildings, such as the ones being used by the Federal Service Tribunal, and accountability, banking and anti-terrorism courts. He said building cannot be used for office purpose as the apex court has restrained commercial activities in residential areas.
The official said the registrar’s notification has no value as the issue is one for civil courts, not the FSC.
A senior FSC official said the FSC chief justice declared the building his official residence and the court will get the possession in accordance with its order. When asked about the ministry’s ownership, the official said the FSC will look into the issue after the ministry provide documents.
Courtesy : Express Tribune