Court orders opening of blocked road to GB town

Army can’t undertake commercial activities: IHC

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) has ruled that Pakistan Army is not authorised or empowered to undertake commercial activities outside its domain for welfare purposes unless expressly permitted by the federal government.

The court stated this in its detailed judgement issued on Wednesday in a case pertaining to encroachments in Margalla Hills National Park.

In January, the IHC had ordered capital authorities to seal off Monal Restaurant and take control of the Margalla Greens Golf Club built on encroached land. It had also declared illegal the military’s claim to 8,000 acres of Margalla Hills National Park.

The decision to seal Monal Restaurant was later suspended by the Supreme Court in March.

In the case’s 108-page detailed judgement issued today, IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah noted that the Pakistan Army Act, 1952, the Air Force Act, 1953 and the Pakistan Navy Ordinance, 1961, were promulgated to regulate the respective branches of the armed forces and their discipline. 

“The Pakistan Army has no power nor jurisdiction to, directly or indirectly, engage in business ventures of any nature outside its composition nor to claim the ownership of state land,” the judgement said, adding that the military’s constitutionally defined roles were to defend Pakistan and act in aid of civil power if called upon to do so.

“[Neither] the Pakistan Army nor its officers are authorised or mandated to undertake, directly or indirectly, any activity such as leasing government land for commercial purpose,” the judgement said.

Regarding the military’s claim to 8,000 acres, the detailed judgement said that it could not own or acquire land given for its use other than as provided under the Constitution and the relevant laws.

“[Neither] the Pakistan Army nor any other branch of the armed forces can claim the ownership of the land allocated by the federal government for its use.” 

The judgement said the military’s stance regarding the claimed acres of land was “atrocious and in violation of the scheme of the Constitution and the applicable laws”.

“It is disturbing to note that the enforced laws are being flagrantly violated by institutions in disregard to the scheme contemplated under the Constitution.

“The urge of state institutions to act as a state within the state is obvious from the above discussed facts,” the judgement noted.

It said the acts and stances of the army had “profound consequences” for the rule of law.

“They acted on their own and while doing so they have seriously undermined the rule of law in derogation to their declared functions under the Constitution.”

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