“The army has no power, no competence to engage in business ventures”
The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Wednesday Published a detailed judgment regarding construction in the Margalla Hills National Park and ruled that the Pakistani military has neither the power nor the competence to engage, directly or indirectly, in commercial enterprises of any kind outside its composition nor to claim ownership of state lands.
The IHC therefore declared the construction of the Navy Golf Course illegal and instructed the Department of Defense to conduct an investigation of the golf course, and ordered the Secretary of Defense to administer a forensic audit to assess the damage caused to the public treasury.
“Since the command and control of the Armed Forces rests with the Federal Government, no branch may undertake any activity or exercise any function outside of its respective establishments unless specifically invited or directed to do so. Responsibilities unique have been mandated by the Constitution and, therefore, obedience to the provisions ibid and to the law is an inviolable obligation of every branch and member of the armed forces, as provided for in article 5,” reads the detailed judgment.
The court also rejected the Pakistan Army leadership’s claim to ownership of 8,068 acres of land in the national park.
Lily Margalla Hills National Park: IHC halts construction of defense complex
In the detailed judgment delivered by IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah, the Pakistan Army Farms Directorate’s lease agreement with the Monal restaurant was also declared illegal.
The Islamabad Environmental Commission’s report was also included in the detailed 108-page decision.
The court said state and government officials had a duty to protect the Margalla Hills.
“It is the responsibility of the state to take action against those who violate the basic rights of the people, however, it is ironic that state institutions are also implicated in the desecration of the Margalla Hills Protected Area “, affirmed the IHC.
The court further said that the Pakistan Navy and the Pakistan Army violated the law by taking it into their own hands, which was an ideal case of weakening the rule of law.
According to the IHC, the state has a duty to take action to repair the damage done to the Margalla Hills to prevent further destruction.
The court previously issued a short order on January 11, 2022, in which it declared that the allocation of 8,068 acres of land to the Pakistani army in the Islamabad National Park area was against the law.
“The claim of the management of Pakistan Army Veterinarian and Farmer Remount for 8,068 acres of land within the notified area of the National Park is in breach of the 1979 Ordinance read together with the 1960 Ordinance and Plan director,” an 11-page judgment written by IHC CJ Athar Minallah said.
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“The claim also does not comply with the applicable laws applicable to the management of land for the use of the armed forces. The federal government had no jurisdiction to authorize the management to use 8,068 acres of land within the notified national park area,” the judgment states.
The judgment stated that the armed forces and their members take a constitutional oath in the name of Allah to uphold the Constitution and to serve Pakistan honestly and faithfully as required by and under the law.
“Breakage of law by members of the armed forces is definitely a violation of their constitutional oath and a transgression of prescribed duties. The Pakistan Army nor its officers are authorized or mandated to undertake, directly or indirectly, any activity such as lease of government land for commercial purposes”.