Sindh files review petition with SC to reconsider anti-encroachment drive


KARACHI: The Sindh government on Friday filed a review petition with the Supreme Court (SC) seeking a reconsideration of its earlier orders of removing illegal encroachments in the metropolis following which thousands of shops and eateries were demolished, rendering many owners destitute.

The petition was filed by Advocate General Salman Talibuddin on behalf of the Sindh government.

The appeal urged the apex court to review its orders to continue the anti-encroachment operation as it had compromised the livelihood of shop owners and wage workers which was in violation of human rights. It said that several properties have official documents and pleaded the court to issue a stay order until the time that the issue is properly settled.

The provincial government pleaded that it will come up with a better method to regulate the presence of encroachments in the city.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has also expressed grave concerns over the human impact of the anti-encroachment drive underway in Karachi’s Saddar area.

In a statement, the HRCP had said, “Protecting people’s fundamental right to a livelihood must always take priority in urban planning. The sheer scale on which shopkeepers and hawkers have been evicted from Saddar – putting thousands of low-income families at the risk of immediate poverty – should be cause for serious concern among planning and development policymakers.”

In its meeting on December 1, the Sindh Cabinet had decided to file a review petition against the apex court’s ruling regarding the demolition of illegal structures.

Government officials had promised to provide alternative places to shopkeepers affected in the ongoing anti-encroachment operation in Karachi. In the first phase, 4000 affected people will be provided with an alternate place for their shops.

It is pertinent to mention here that the federal government has also decided to file a review petition after Sindh Governor Imran Ismail held a meeting with Prime Minister (PM) Imran Khan and raised the issue of the shopkeepers who have nowhere to go. The meeting discussed the anti-encroachment operation being led by Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC).

The SC in October 2018 had directed deputy commissioners, Rangers and cantonment board administrations to extend support to Karachi’s city government to remove encroachments from Empress Market and its neighbouring areas in Saddar. The decision led to the launch of the anti-encroachment drive.

The KMC with the KDA also busy removing encroachments and illegal structures on court orders on a petition of former city Nazim Advocate Niamatullah Khan seeking to remove encroachments from 162 amenity plots in Karachi.