IMAX Theatre case: ‘Doongi Ground a public park since before independence’
LAHORE: The Doongi Ground had been earmarked as a public park in the original scheme designed for Gulberg before the creation of Pakistan and could not be used for commercial purposes, said Muhammad Azhar, the petitioner’s counsel in a case challenging the construction of the multi-million IMAX Theatre on the Doongi Ground, situated at Mini Market, Gulberg.
Azhar said that recreational facilities such as parks and grounds were reducing rapidly in the city due to commercialisation of their lands and should be protected.
A full bench of the Lahore High Court (LHC), consisting of Justice Sakhi Hussain Bokhari, Justice Mohammad Bilal Khan and Justice Fazl-e-Miran Chohan, deferred the case till Monday for further arguments because the court’s time had ended on Friday.
The counsel raised objections on hearing of the case before this bench on the plea since the Supreme Court of Pakistan had sized the matter and issued a stay order. He also said that this bench could not hear the case because one of its members, Justice Khan, had suspended the interim orders of a single bench of Justice Muhammad Saeed Akhtar. Advocate Azhar has also moved a petition to include Justice Muhammad Saeed Akhtar in the present full bench.
Justice Chohan said Gulberg was a posh locality of the city and the residents bribed Lahore Development Authority (LDA) officials to get their residences commercialised and later sold it at ten times higher prices.
He said pro bono litigation started in India in 1963 whereas in Pakistan, Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry started providing justice to common people only recently. The petitioner, Karachi-based NGO Shehri-CBE (Citizens for Better Environment), journalist Ardshir Cowasji and 11 residents of the area had moved the Supreme Court, which referred the case to the LHC. On August 8, 2006, a single bench of the LHC consisting of Justice Saeed Akhtar stopped the provincial government and the Punjab Entertainment Company (PEC) from continuing the construction of the cinema. The stay was vacated on March 9 by an LHC division bench and work was resumed. However, the petitioner moved another petition in the SC, which stopped the work again. staff report