Tuesday Jan 11 2022

IHC orders authorities to seal Monal Restaurant, take over navy's golf course today

  • IHC CJ Athar Minallah hears case related to encroachments at Margalla Hills National Park.
  • Due to the elite, common man cannot set foot in the national park, he remarks during proceedings.
  • "Armed forces should not be controversial," Justice Minallah says.

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Tuesday ordered authorities to seal Islamabad's hilltop Monal Restaurant and also take over the Navy Golf Course by close of business today.

The order came during a hearing presided over by IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah of a case related to the encroachments on the Margalla Hills National Park.

Secretaries for the ministries of defence and interior, the chairman of the Capital Development Authority (CDA), and the additional attorney general (AAG) were present during the hearing.

Justice Minallah said the national park's land belongs to the state and no commercial activities can be carried out here. "No one can even cut the grass on the land, this land belongs to the state."

Justice Minallah, addressing the government officials, said that "lawlessness" was taking place and that the events taking place in Islamabad were "shocking".

"Lawlessness is prevailing in Islamabad. The court continuously gives decisions and informs [officials]," Justice Minallah remarked.

He ordered the CDA to take over the Margalla Greens Golf Club and directed the chief commissioner Islamabad to seal the Monal Restaurant.

'Armed forces should not be controversial'

The court asked the secretary of defence to ensure that the Navy Golf Course is handed over to the CDA and asked the government official to take action against those responsible for encroaching the land.

"You had already admitted that the golf course was illegal," he told the secretary of defence.

The court said that all the armed forces — army, navy, and airforce — come under the Ministry of Defence and they were not autonomous.

"Pakistan Navy encroached [upon the national park's land]. This is inappropriate. This will not portray a good image of the armed forces in the eyes of the people."

"The armed forces should not be controversial, it is not in the public's interest," he said.

Justice Minallah said the court wanted the people to look up to the armed forces. "The laws are equally applicable on all the armed forces."

"Did the navy seek permission from the CDA for construction? It (navy) might have security reservations," he said, adding that relevant authorities should hear out the security concerns listed down by the secretary of defence.

'Illegal' military claim

The court declared the military's 8,000-acre claim on the national park's land as illegal and asked the AAG on what grounds was the land allotted to the military.

The court said the land should be given back to the state. "Only the elite benefit when there is lawlessness."