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Full Version: Sindh High Court retains stay on Clifton projects
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Sindh High Court retains stay on Clifton projects

KARACHI: The Karachi Metropolitan Corporation’s (KMC) second attempt to get the court’s permission to resume construction work on the Clifton project suffered a blow as the judges on Wednesday turned down its appeal on technical grounds.
The Sindh High Court (SHC) division bench, headed by Justice Nadeem Akhtar, disposed of KMC’s appeal to recall the single bench’s order to stop construction of an underpass and two flyovers in Clifton, as the judges noted that the appeal had become ineffective.
A single bench, while hearing the Defence Housing Authority’s (DHA) lawsuit against the construction, had ordered its financer – real estate company Bahria Town – and its executer – Karachi Metropolitan Corporation – to stop the project on April 29, as they had launched it without obtaining an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) approval from the Sindh Environmental Protection Agency (Sepa).
Both the defendants were directed to first obtain the EIA approval in accordance with the provisions of the Pakistan Environmental Project Act (Pepa) 1997 and Karachi Building and Town Planning Regulations 2000.
Later, on August 15, another SHC division bench suspended the EIA approval granted by the Sepa in favour of the project.
However, the KMC filed an appeal against the April 29 order, arguing that Pepa 1997 was no longer valid when the suit was filed by DHA or when the order was passed. The aforesaid act was superseded by the Pakistan Environmental Protection Act 2014 prior to the passing of the order.
DHA’s objection
Advocate Abid S Zuberi, representing DHA, contended that Pepa 2014 came into force on March 20, whereas the appellant applied for an Initial Environmental Examination on March 11 under the act. The same was accorded by the authority on March 13 under the act of 1997, and the act of 2014 was not in existence on any of these dates.
The judges’ ruling
The judges observed that by obtaining the EIA and filing the application for recalling the April 29 order, KMC ‘has in fact accepted the impugned order and has availed the remedy provided therein’. They noted that the stay granted by the April 29 order can only be vacated by the single bench.
“We are of the considered opinion that this appeal has become infructuous in view of the above noted admitted subsequent developments and the question of the impugned order being per incuriam or not is now merely academic,” remarked Justice Nadeem Akhtar, the head of the bench. “Accordingly, the appeal is disposed of along with the listed applications as having become infructuous.”
Published in The Express Tribune, September 18th, 2014.
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