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Supreme Court Raises Concerns Over Military Ownership of Margalla Land: Demands Explanation

Margalla Land

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court, in a hearing on Monday, expressed astonishment at the prospect of converting the Margalla Hills National Park (MHNP) into the military’s grassland, while questioning the ownership and legal standing of the Remount, Veterinary and Farms Directorate (RVFD).

Headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Qazi Faez Isa, a three-judge bench addressed the appeal filed by Messrs Monal group of companies against an Islamabad High Court (IHC) judgment from January 11, 2022.

The IHC had directed the government to seal and take possession of Monal Restaurant, situated on the scenic Margalla Hills, citing an expired lease agreement with the Capital Development Authority (CDA). The court asked for a statement identifying the “real owner” of the 8,600 acres of land within MHNP.

Chief Justice Isa questioned the legal status of RVFD and its role in the agreement, emphasizing that only a legal entity could respond to the Supreme Court.

The CJP asserted that the Margalla land belonged solely to the government, not the army, and noted a sense of reluctance from the government lawyer regarding ownership.

Advocate Salman Akram Raja, representing Monal Restaurant, disclosed ongoing litigation over land ownership and rent payments to the court.

The Chief Justice highlighted that the restaurant, having become a trespasser after the lease’s expiry, lacked the right to choose tenants. He characterized the case as a “classic case of suicide bomber,” suggesting self-sabotage by the management.

As the court sought proof of land allocation to RVFD, Chief Justice Isa dismissed an unsigned letter and called for concrete documents.

The court emphasized the importance of establishing ownership and expressed concern that military possession might lead to a case of taking over lands from the CDA. The CJP stressed that the property belonged to the people of Pakistan, not the military.

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