The Supreme Court (SC) has ordered the restoration of the Hindu Gymkhana to its original condition and the removal of marquees and offices.
The Supreme Court remarked that NAPA should not be evicted from the Hindu gymnasium until an alternative location is found for the academy. Expressing his anger, Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmad said that historic structures are under threat and Sindh was the most affected region. The CJ remarked that if any new constructions were to be made inside the historic building, they would have to be demolished. “No historical building will survive like this,” remarked Justice Ijazul Ahsan. “Who allowed NAPA to build new structures in a historic building?” he asked.
The chief justice also asked how NAPA could build on his own. Justice Ahsan outlined that the academy was only given space for its own activities. He questioned whether the Sindh government allowed NAPA to build an auditorium. NAPA’s lawyer Faisal Siddiqui said that the theatre, which had become a point of contention, was constructed far from the building. “The theatre has nothing to do with the gymkhana.” The woman public prosecutor, meanwhile, took the position that a Hindu temple had been demolished. Justice Ahsan remarked that every place of worship is respected in the country. Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed asked why the marquee was made in the gymkhana.
“That marquee shouldn’t be here. Before partition, the Muslim and Hindu gymnasiums were built separately,” the CJ continued. He added that the Muslim Gymkhana was in its original state today, while the land of the Hindu Gymkhana was given to Aligarh University and others. He said that Aligarh University should also be abolished from that land. Meanwhile, Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed censured the Karachi commissioner for his late arrival. “You were called, where were you?” he asked, adding that the only reason the official was shown leniency was because he has been recently appointed. The commissioner was grilled over construction around Quad-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s shrine.
The court asked how buildings were being constructed by demolishing older structures. “Who is giving him permission to construct buildings?” Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan asked. Expressing his anger, Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmad said officials are bent on destroying historic architecture. “All the secretaries are sitting in their offices. Sindh is the worst hit.” Meanwhile, Justice Ahsan remarked that old buildings have no value at all. “People are carrying bricks from graves in Makli,” he said. Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmad suggested taking a look at place like Burns Road and Pakistan Chowk. “If there were such sites in another country, it would have become a source of tourism. There are beautiful buildings behind the Sindh Secretariat. You cannot even imagine constructing such buildings,” he said. Meanwhile, the SC directed the Sindh government to provide a suitable place for National Academy of Performing Arts (NAPA) and not remove the academy from the Hindu Gymkhana till such a location is found.
The Sindh culture secretary said that authorities are ready to give space to NAPA in the North Karachi area. The court ordered the academy’s lawyer to inspect the building in North Karachi. The Supreme Court ordered that all kinds of facilities should be provided to NAPA at the alternative place. It said steps should be taken to ensure world-class facilities to NAPA at the alternative locations. The court ordered the restoration of the Hindu Gymnasium to its original condition and the removal of aluminium windows in the building. The apex court also directed the Karachi commissioner to submit a progress report on the alternative site. The court remarked that instead of aluminium, traditional windows should be installed. The court adjourned the hearing till the next session.
The Supreme Court has ordered Karachi commissioner to monitor the demolition of the demolition of Tejori Heights. A bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan, Justice Gulzar Ahmad and comprising Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan and Justice Qazi Muhammad Amin Ahmad at the Karachi Registry of the Supreme Court and a case of construction of Tejori Height on railway lands was heard. Mian Raza Rabbani representing the builders stated that his clients were ready to vacate the project, however, they need time to resolve issues.