Encroachment or not?: Commissioner appointed to investigate hotel drop lane

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ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Tuesday appointed a local commissioner to look into a dispute over the construction of a passenger drop lane at the entrance of a five-star hotel. The lane has been made allegedly in violation of Capital Development Authority (CDA) bylaws. Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqi appointed Islamabad High Court Bar Association former President Chaudhry Ashraf Gujjar as its local commissioner in response to a petition filed by the general manager of Hashwani Hotels challenging a notice served by the CDA on the construction of a passenger drop lane.

The case has been pending before the court since 2003. Initially, the Lahore High Court (LHC) Rawalpindi bench had granted a stay order, before the case was transferred to the IHC. Ten years later, Justice Siddiqui resumed hearings, with Advocate Naeem Bukhari, representing the hotel operator, maintaining that the CDA had issued notices to the hotel management despite the fact that the drop lane was on the hotelís property. He argued that in every five-star hotel, there is a drop lane built to facilitate visitors, similarly, his client had made the drop lane on hotel premises.

Terming the notice served on the hotel illegal, Bukhari requested that the court set it aside. Justice Siddiqi then appointed Gujjar as the local commissioner and gave him the responsibility of determining whether the hotel management has made the drop lane on hotel premises or public land. The court directed the petitioner to submit a report in one week and set his fee for the task at Rs200,000, payable by the petitioner.

Meanwhile, the same bench has also referred the matter of CDA-owned commercial plot being used as a parking lot by the same hotel to a three-member commission constituted to investigate alleged corruption in the CDA. The hotel has developed a parking lot along 6th Avenue over an area measuring 10,289.44 square yards, which is in excess of the commercial plot it has occupied. The hotel management has built a rear gate and a paved path on the plot in violation of building bylaws. On March 13, CDA attempted to retrieve the commercial plot to auction it off. However, the hotel management challenged the auction, leading to the IHC issuing a stay order and referring the matter to the commission.

Courtesy: Tribune

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