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CJP lambasts defence secretary over commercial use of military land

No more commercial activities on military land, SC told. (Source: Dawn)

KARACHI: Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Gulzar Ahmed on Friday lambasted Secretary of Defense over commercial use of military land, asking whether the construction of marriage halls and cinemas was intended for defence purposes.

During the hearing of the case at the Karachi registry of the Supreme Court, a three-member Supreme Court bench, headed by the chief justice and comprising Justice Qazi Mohammad Amin Ahmed and Justice Ijazul Ahsan, took strong exception to commercial activities on the military land.

The CJP questioned Defence Secretary retired Lt Gen Mohammad Hilal Hussain about the activities being conducted on military lands. “This land was given to you for strategic and defence [purposes and yet] you have started commercial activities on it,” he said.

“We have decided that this will not happen again,” the defence secretary said, adding that the construction of housing societies and commercial use of military land would be checked and stopped.

At this, Justice Amin asked Hussain how that would be made possible and where the process would start.  The chief justice commented that colonels and majors were acting like kings.

“Go and tell all the chiefs of the armed forces that the land meant for defence purposes will not be used for commercial objectives. Go to all the military cantonments and tell them the land will be used only for strategic purposes,” CJP ordered defence secretary.

He also said that commercial activities were underway at Masroor Base and Faisal Base and tall buildings had been erected when orders were given to remove signboards.

The court adjourned the hearing until November 30, saying it would take place in Islamabad and also ordered that a written report be submitted.

While hearing the case on Wednesday, the chief justice had stated that the conversion of cantonment land into private land seemed to be in direct contravention of the Cantonment Act, 1924, Cantonment Land Rules, 1937, and various constitutional provisions and the issue needed to be heard and decided by the court.

The bench had expressed resentment over director cantonment and military land, Karachi region, Adil Rafi Siddiqui, over such activities within the jurisdiction of cantonment boards and also sought a report from him about a wall being built on the premises of a park in Defence Housing Authority Phase-I.

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