LHC Ruling In Ravi Riverfront Project Case Suspended By SC

The ruling of the Lahore High Court (LHC) in the Ravi Urban Development Plan case has been suspended by the Supreme Court on Monday. SC has allowed the government of Punjab to continue work on this project.

The SC bench was hearing the appeal against the cancellation of this project, which was earlier declared as unconstitutional by the Lahore High Court on January 15, as the project does not have a master plan.

The SC allowed the Punjab government to carry on with construction activities on the plots of land for which dues have been paid. However, the Supreme Court has restricted the provincial government from construction activities on plots for which the owners have not been paid yet and the dues are still pending.

Supreme Court issued the notices to the respondents in the case during today’s hearing. And the bench said that an assessment will be carried out to decide if the appeal constitutes an intra-court appeal. The bench added that the case will be referred back to the Lahore High Court in case of an intra-court appeal.

The legal team of the Punjab government, earlier in the hearing, was reprimanded by the apex court for appearing before the bench unprepared in the case.

Justice Ijazul Ahsan asked AGP Owais that it seems you have not prepared as you don’t know what the case is? When AGP Owais was unable to answer the question

The AGP from Punjab replied that in the high court’s verdict the provincial government of Punjab was not a party to the case.

Justice Ahsan commented that it does not matter not being party to one of 18 petitions, the government of Punjab had presented its position in the high court.

These petitions were filed against the public hearing of the environment agency, AGP Punjab Owais pleaded further.

The justice responded that the legal team of the provincial government should not misrepresent in court and further added that possession of the lands for the project was also challenged, according to the records.

The Lahore High court in its January 25 verdict stated that any scheme if established without a master plan is unconstitutional.

The court had also observed that in purchasing agricultural land for the Ravi Urban Development scheme in Lahore and Sheikhupura proper procedure was not adopted, therefore, the court declared it unconstitutional to acquire the land through amendment in Section 4 of the RUDA Ordinance. 

The order stated that Section 4 of the RUDA (amendment) Ordinance 2021 is opposing to Article 144 of the constitution, therefore the acquirement notification of Section 4 is illegal.

On January 28, the premier said that the government would invoke the jurisdiction of the SC in the case. Prime Minister Imran Khan said that to bring the court’s attention to the significance of the project given civic facilities and urban development, the case would be presented in a better manner. 

PM Khan had highlighted the important features of the project, including twenty million trees plantation as part of forestation, filtration of sewerage, and construction of barrages to reinforce the water table.

The Prime Minister had explained that the riverfront project would create employment opportunities and promote foreign investment.