Temporary respite: IHC conditionally unseals Safa Mall

CDA to present report against own officials involved in next hearing. PHOTO: FILE

CDA to present report against own officials involved in next hearing. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court on Friday conditionally allowed Al-Safa Shopping Mall to unseal its premises.

Justice Aamer Farooq directed the management of the mall to submit the principal amount to the civic body within seven days, remove illegally-placed generators and other equipment within three days, and clear the basement area being occupied by admin offices within two months.

Apart from the payment of the principal amount, the court also ordered mall officials to submit surety against the remaining amount.

While directing mall officials to adhere to the approved building plan, Justice Farooq directed the Capital Development Authority (CDA) to produce original records of the building as well as the inquiry report against the CDA officials who allowed the mall to add additional floors to the building.

The court also directed the CDA to complete its inquiry against the officials responsible for granting permission to the mall management to build additional floors and submit the report in the next hearing.

Justice Farooq asked why did the CDA not take action against the mall management when the construction was in progress. “Why did the civic body remain silent for years,” he asked.

The CDA Building Control Section sealed the multi-storey shopping centre in Jinnah Super Market over various building code violations. CDA said the apart from the actual plot, the owner of the mall had illegally occupied adjacent state land.

In the petition, the chief executive of the Al-Safa Golden Company, through his counsel Zulfiqar Abbas Naqvi, has made the CDA chairman, the estate management director, and the Building Control Section director respondents.

In the petition, the counsel said that the petitioner raised the construction over the plot in accordance with the approved building plan. He added that in the year 2012, the petitioner sought certain amendments in the approval to add more floors, which was allowed on November 16, 2012.

On April 23, 2015, the counsel said that the revision in the approval earlier granted was suspended without assigning any cogent reason. He added that the decision was challenged before the IHC and the incumbent bench – Justice Farooq – had dismissed it.

Protest averted

Meanwhile, a testy situation was averted on Friday morning as shopkeepers and owners gathered at the mall to protest against the mall administration. One shop owner told The Express Tribune that they intended to shove their way in and unilaterally open the mall, citing the heavy losses they have been running because of its closure.

The mall administration was able to talk them down after explaining that the mall would indeed be reopened in light of the IHC orders, which had been issued around the same time that the protesters had assembled.

Original news : http://tribune.com.pk/story/1156541/temporary-respite-ihc-conditionally-unseals-safa-mall/