ISLAMABAD: The high court has issued summons to the chief planner of the civic agency over lawyer’s chambers in and around the district courts in Sector F-8.
The directions were issued by a larger bench of the Islamabad High Court (IHC), comprising Justice Amir Farooq, Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani, Justice Mian Gul Hasan Aurangzeb and Chief Justice Ather Minallah. They were hearing a case relating to the construction of lawyer’s chambers in a football ground adjacent to the Sector F-8 Kutchery.
During Thursday’s hearing, a large number of lawyers and office bearers of District Bar Association (DBA) appeared before the court.
Islamabad Bar Council Vice Chairman Haroon Rashid contended that the petitioner, Shehnaz Butt, was not present in the court, and requested that the court dismiss the petition because the petitioner did not appear to be following the applications.
At this, CJ Minallah observed that since it was a matter of public interest, the court wanted to resolve the matter permanently.
The chief justice asked the lawyers’ leaders, including Islamabad Bar Association President Chaudhry Khanzada, Deputy Attorney General Syed Tayyab Shah, Rasheed, and members from the Pakistan Bar Council, that if they read the order issued after the last hearing of the case in which the court had raised some legal questions.
The lawyers told the court that they had not read the order.
At this, CJ Minallah asked the lawyers to assist the court at the next hearing of the case on the questions raised and to find a permanent solution to the matter.
The IHC then issued summons for the Capital Development Authority’s (CDA) member planning and development to appear in person before the bench at the next hearing of the case.
The case was then adjourned to March 13.
At the last hearing of the case on February 4, the court had given the government a month to draw up proposals for establishing a purpose-built complex for the district courts of the federal capital and to submit them before the federal cabinet.
A single-member bench of the court, led by CJ Minallah, noted that the district courts in the federal capital have been operating in privately-owned buildings in the commercial area of Sector F-8 for the past three decades.
The order went on to state that the appalling working environment and conditions in the district courts were beyond comprehension and that “it cannot be described in words”.
He added that the deplorable conditions at the district courts was affecting the fundamental rights of the people and speaks volumes for the apathy of successive governments since 1980 towards the most important tier of the judicial system.
“It definitely manifests that hitherto, the state through its functionaries appears to have given lowest priority to the inviolable fundamental right of access to justice,” the order noted, adding that under Article 37 of Constitution, the state was obligated to ensure the provision of inexpensive and expeditious justice.
CJ Minallah directed the federal government to take urgent measures for shifting the district courts to a “purpose-built complex” to fulfil its constitutional obligations.
Further, the court directed Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) Chief Commissioner Aamir Ahmed Ali to consult with the registrar of the IHC for setting up the district courts in a purpose-built complex.
This proposal should be forwarded “to the federal government within two weeks”, the court directed.
It further directed the Federal Interior Secretary Aamir Ahmed as a focal person for the federal government to ensure that the proposals are processed and placed before the federal cabinet, “preferably within two-weeks from the date they are received.”