LHC suspends caretaker government’s notifications of cancellation of district status of Murree, Talagang

Rawalpind       -          lahore High Court (lHC) Rawalpindi Bench on Thursday suspended the notifications issued by caretaker Punjab government for cancellation of district status of Murree and Talagang. lHC Rawalpindi Bench Justice Tanvir Sultan laid down the verdict while directing the caretaker government of Punjab and Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to review its decision.

The court also gave a week to caretaker Punjab government for submitting their reply regarding the petitions filed by locals against freezing development funds of Murree. When the court took up the petition filed against decision of Punjab government of cancellation of Talagang’s district status, the lawyer of Punjab Board of Revenue argued that the government can’t issue orders for new districts as per land revenue laws. The court also asked the lawyer of petitioner of Murree’s district status either the administration is working as district government on which the lawyer told court that the government had not resorted the district status of Murree.

Justice Sultan Tanvir observed that why the government had not acted upon a verdict of suspension of a notification. “There is no need for justification after issuance of any court order,” the justice said. The judge asked the public council if he has the knowledge about court verdict in which the notification was suspended and suspension means suspension. He said the government should understand this fact also.

Justice of lHC asked the petitioners either sessions courts have been established in Murree and Talagang with appointment of District and Session Judges to which they replied the government had stopped working on all the matters. Earlier, PTi former MPs Sadaqat Ali Khan and Maj (R) latasab Satti had challenged the decision of caretaker Punjab government in lahore High Court (lHC) Rawalpindi Bench. Senior Member Board of Revenue Punjab, Chief Minister Punjab and Principal Secretary Provincial Secretary Election Commission have been made as respondents. In the petition, the petitioners stated that during the Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) regime, the former Punjab government had given Murree district status, for this purpose a formal notification was issued last year.

As it consists of beautiful mountain ranges, Murree and Kotli Sattian are prominent in tourism, especially during the rainy season, there is a huge rush of tourists here, they said. They said that the caretaker government will run day to day affairs of the province till the new elections but the present caretaker government maliciously suspended the decision of the previous government and de-notified the district status of Murree and issued a new notification on February 15 to cancel the separate district status of Murree. Former MNA Sadaqat Ali Abbasi said that that the decision to grant Murree district status was taken by an elected government, in this context, a caretaker government can neither formulate any permanent policy nor change any policy and permanent decision of the previous elected government. He said that this action of the government was completely illegal because the caretaker government has no authority to suspend this notification.

He said that this decision of the government exposed the intention of the caretaker set up and what impartiality would be expected from it in coming days. Similarly, lHC Rawalpindi Bench Justice Tanvir Sultan also accepted a petition for hearing filed against Punjab government’s decision regarding the cancellation of Talagang district status. Malik Faisal Kabir, Malik ijaz Jasial and Mehboob Hussain Jarah had challenged the decision of caretaker Punjab government through their lawyer Malik Muhammad Kabir Advocate. The petitioners made Governor Punjab, Chief Secretary Punjab, Secretary Board of Revenue, Secretary Coordination of CM Punjab and Secretary law and Parliamentary Affairs Punjab as respondents. They said that a public elected government of PTI had given Talagang the status of district through a notification issued by Chief Secretary Punjab. However, the caretaker provincial government had cancelled the notification. The court accepted the petition for hearing and issued notices to respondents.

The apex court sought reply from the respondents within seven days. Residents of Murree including Sajid Abbasi and Saad Salim Raja have filed a petition with lHC Rawalpindi Bench Justice Sultan Tanvir through their lawyer Sardar Abdul Raziq Khan stating former Chief Minister Punjab Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi while keeping in view special status of Murree has given approval for renovation/ construction of roads, schools, highways and other public projects and work started on the projects However, the caretaker government of Punjab did not only freeze all the development funds but also stopped contractors from working on development projects in Murree which was a sheer violation of rights of residents of hill station. They pleaded that no government can roll down the development projects in name of elections adding that delay in completion of projects would add more costs to the national kitty. The ECP’s step of freezing development funds is illegal, they said.

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