Murree hills commission facing roadblocks

A judicial commission tasked with probing into illegal constitutions at Murree – a popular hill station in Punjab – is facing difficulties in completing its investigation due to a number of reasons including non-availability of record at the Muree Municipal Committee and lack of proper resources.

The commission led by Federal Shariat Court (FSC) former judge Mehmood Maqbool Bajwa has filed its preliminary report to the apex court after passage of more than two years.

The Supreme Court on March 29, 2018 constituted the commission which had later directed a team –headed by Murree assistant commissioner and comprising tehsil municipal administration (TMA) staff – to prepare a report about each building at the resort.

The team completed its work on July 1, 2019 after conducting a survey of 1,522 residential and commercial buildings. Later, the commission also conducted a physical survey but the report remains incomplete due to non-availability of proper record at the Murree Municipal Committee.

The commission complained that none of officials at the municipal committee was ready to take responsibility for the loss of record. The commission while doing physical verification found that information provided on paper books was also incomplete and incorrect.

It again directed the concerned staff to prepare paper books which were submitted on October 30, 2019. In the paper books, the different violations committed in construction of the buildings were highlighted. The committee later decided to issue notices to the owners of commercial buildings.

However, the matter has been delayed due to the visit of the commission’s head to France to see his ailing daughter. Justice (retired) Mehmood Maqbool Bajwa is still in France.

The report said the commission’s head retired as the FSC judge on August 30, 2019 and is now facing difficulties in completing the task. It said except the former judge’s secretary – an FSC officer also working as the secretary for the commission – there is no other person available to the commission.

The commission has requested the apex court’s “indulgence” and said that it requires a proper courtroom for hearing the parties. It also requires more staff including a stenographer, noting that officials of Rawalpindi deputy commissioner will not be in position to cooperate with the commission.

The report said there is also a need of funds to meet the urgent expenses. The commission also requested the apex court to give it more time to conclude the task.

In view of the interim report, Additional Advocate General Chaudhry Faisal Hussain has written a letter to DC Rawalpindi for the redressal of grievances. Now the DC’s response is awaited. The apex court will resume hearing of the case next week, on November 24.

This article originally appeared on The Express Tribune