Illegal occupation could not be legal even after 100 years: SC

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KARACHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday observed that illegal occupation on land could not be declared legal even a person had occupation on land for 100 years.

Hearing petition against removal of property on railways land, SC’s three member bench headed by Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed observed that SC had already ordered that railways land could not be used other than operational purposes.

The applicant submitted that he was residing at the property on railways land near Frere hall and the anti-encroachment cell of railways demolished his property without giving any notice. He submitted that he was living at the property for last several years and sought injunction against the demolition and possession of the land.

The court observed that illegal occupation could not be declared a legal occupation even if person had occupation on land for 100 years. The court dismissed the application and directed the applicant to approach the competent forum for claiming compensation against railways.

Earlier on Monday, the Supreme Court has directed the attorney general of Pakistan to seek instructions from the Federation about running the affairs of Pakistan Railways, especially in the light of accidents taking place now and then causing a huge loss of life.

Issuing an order on petitions against illegal encroachments on public parks and amenity lands in Karachi and Karachi Circular Railways, the Supreme Court’s three-member bench, headed by Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed, observed that it was high time for the federal government to immediately look into the affairs of railways and eventually the federal government should immediately get rid of all officials of railways from top to bottom who were incapable of delivering services to railways and providing safe, secure and dignified travel to the people.

The court observed that functionality of the Pakistan Railways was not in professional hands, rather was being operated by questionable officials, who have no capacity, capability or will to run the railways and marred by corruption, making the operations of railways altogether impossible.

The court observed that the state of affairs in railways prevailing from top to bottom and despite orders of the court, nothing seems to have been done by the federal government. The court observed that it has been informed that railway tracks from Khairpur to Kotri and from Sukkur to Karachi were altogether unserviceable and dangerous for the operation of railways and until it was refurbished by new tracks, new surveillance system and other new infrastructure, railways operation on these tracks will always be under threat of major accidents.

The court took an exception over the statement of the federal minister for railways after the Ghotki train accident that he will resign if the lives lost in the incident were resurrected. The court observed that this was a mocking of people by the railways minister, which was not expected from a person holding such a responsible position.

The court directed the minister of railways, secretary railways to refurbish the railways track from Khairpur to Kotri and from Sukkur to Karachi by laying new tracks, new signaling system and providing all infrastructure. The court directed the federal government to immediately step in for overhauling the railways administration and directed the AGP to submit interim report on June 16.

The court observed that it had been informed that a meeting in the Governor’s House had taken place where the matter relating to lands of Pakistan Railways, particularly in Sindh, had been discussed to be sold to private developers.

The court noted that in one place Pakistan Railways was filing cases before various courts in Sindh, including the apex court, for obtaining orders for vacation and retrieving of railways land from encroachers, unauthorised occupants, illegal allottees and illegal leases for railways operational purposes but on the other hand the railways seems to be evolving some mechanism by which its lands are planned to be sold out.

The court ordered that not an inch of railways land shall be sold, transferred, leased or by any means given to any private person or to any of its employees. The court observed that all railways land was required to be used for railways operational purposes and for no other purposes.

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