The Supreme Court on Tuesday turned down a plea by the attorney general who requested the court withdraw its earlier orders calling for the razing of a mosque constructed “illegally” in Karachi’s Tariq Road area, saying “religious tension” was springing up in the wake of demolition directives.
The Supreme Court in its hearing at the Karachi Registry on Dec 28 had come down hard on the city administration for allowing the establishment of illegal cemeteries, mosques and shrines on public spaces and ordered authorities to remove all encroachments and retrieve the land meant for public parks.
During the proceedings, the court was informed that a mosque, Madina Masjid, had been built on land measuring around 1,100 square yards shown as a park in PECHS on main Tariq Road.
The bench had expressed resentment at the DMC-East administrator when he requested it to pass an order about the removal of the mosque and said that it was his duty to restore public spaces. It directed the administrator to ensure the removal of the mosque and other encroachments in a week and restore the land as a park.
During today’s hearing in Islamabad, Attorney General Khalid Javed Khan urged the top court to review its Dec 28 verdict saying, “Many questions are being raised over directives to raze a place of worship.”
The chief justice responded that the Sindh government could allocate an alternative place for the mosque, insisting that “we had ourselves seen a park on that land.”
Justice Qazi Amin Ahmed observed that religion was being used in land grabbing.
The attorney general said it was the duty of the state to provide land for the mosque but reiterated his request to the court to withdraw its order.
“All we can do is order the mosque not to be demolished until a new site is earmarked for it,” said the chief justice.
The CJP said the apex court couldn’t take back its order. “What would be the purpose of proceedings if we withdraw our orders,” Justice Gulzar said.
Justice Amin noted that building a mosque on an encroached land was not a religious act, saying “Islam does not allow it.”
“If you want to build a mosque, construct it from your own pocket,” he said.
The court sought a report from the Sindh government in three weeks and adjourned the hearing till January 13.