ISLAMABAD: Turning down a plea from the Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) seeking to evict the Federal Urdu University of Arts, Science and Technology from one of its buildings in Islamabad, the top court on Wednesday granted the varsity a one-year reprieve.
However, the university would have to complete construction of its new campus by then, vacate the building and pay the utility due rent.
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In 2003, the Federal Urdu University of Arts, Science and Technology (FUUAST) had been established in the Wapda House near Zero Point.
However, irregular payment of rent to Wapda by the university’s then administration meant that the utility filed an eviction suit before the Islamabad Rent Controller in 2012.
The Rent Controller ruled in favour of Wapda. The decision was also upheld in the appellate court and then the Islamabad High Court in 2016.
The FUUAST administration though challenged the high court’s decision in the Supreme Court.
During Wednesday’s hearing, Wapda Services Director General Khalid Hussain recounted before the court that the first eviction notice to the university had been issued on January 1, 2012.
He urged the court to ensure that the university administration vacates Wapda’s building in three months, in accordance with provisions of the Rent Control Act.
Justice Gulzar Ahmed observed that “neither the university nor Wapda is a profit making institution. So it would be better for both parties to deliberate over the issue”.
Wapda’s counsel further told the bench that the Capital Development Authority (CDA) had also cancelled the lease of his client’s building because it was not being used for its specified purpose.
However, he added that a civil court had granted a stay to Wapda against CDA’s notice.
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Responding to allegations from Wapda’s counsel that the university had not only defaulted on its rent but was also deliberately declining to vacate his client’ property, FUUAST Additional Registrar Shah G. Muhammad submitted that the varsity was paying the utility Rs3 million in rent every month.
Further, FUUAST lawyer advocate Asad Hussain Ghalib requested the court to grant them two years-time to shift their campus to space allocated in the capital.
After hearing both parties, the bench in its order noted that owing to the prevailing circumstances, the university can operate in the building for another year.
However, the court directed the university’s administration to complete construction of its new campus in the capital and shift its 5,000 students within a year.
The court added that the university was liable to pay all outstanding rent to the Wapda along with the annual increases agreed to in their rent contract.
Disposing of the university’s appeal, the bench said in its order: “In case the university fails to pay rent, the Wapda will seek remedy in the matter from an appropriate forum”.
courtesy : express tribune