The Pakistan Supreme Court has barred the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) from demolishing a Hindu dharamshala in Karachi and leasing it out to an individual.
A three-judge bench issued the order in the case related to the implementation of a 2014 judgment on minorities rights.
Ramesh Kumar, the co-opt member of the one-man commission on minorities, upraised the court that the property, located in the heart of Saddar town in Karachi city and measuring about 716 square yards, was a dharamshala.
Kumar also submitted photographs of the building and told the Supreme Court that the ETPB had leased the property to the individual for the demolition and allowed construction of a commercial plaza.
The Supreme Court’s order in the case, maintained: “The very photograph apparently shows that the building is of a dharamshala constructed in the year 1932, which can be read from the marble slab affixed on the building and must be protected heritage building.”
The court issued a notice to the Sindh provincial secretary heritage, asking for a report on the building and barred authorities from demolishing it.
“In the meantime, no demolition activity of the said building shall be conducted by anyone and possession of the building and the land shall be taken over by the Commissioner Karachi, who shall manage the same and not allow any person to enter upon it,” the order added.
The court noted that the one-man commission has also requested for allocation of more funds for clearance of outstanding liabilities and also for allocation of budget for the year.
“In the meantime, the amount of 14.994 million PKR be disbursed to the commission. For allocation of a new budget, let a proper response be filed by the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony.”