The Islamabad High Court (IHC) ordered Capital Development Authority (CDA) to seal off Monal Restaurant and take control of the land. It declared the military’s claim to 8,000 acres of Margalla Hills National Park illegal. Chief Justice of IHC, Athar Minallah, said that the Margalla Greens Golf Club was built on the encroached land. He gave these orders while hearing a case related to encroachments in the national park to “protect the wider public interest”. According to reports, Monal’s lease ended in 2021.
The judge questioned whether the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) received approval from CDA before constructing the leisure spot on the national park.
CDA Seals Monal Restaurant
Following the court’s directives, CDA officials sealed Monal Restaurant. IHC directed Pakistan Environment Protection Agency (PEPA) to submit a report on damages caused by the illegal construction on the national park. In November 2021, IHC regretted that those who were supposed to protect the natural area, which was a wildlife sanctuary, were responsible for destroying it. The court collectively blamed CDA, the federal government, and the Islamabad Wildlife Management Board (IWMB).
The judge ordered Defense Secretary to investigate encroachments of the naval golf park and take action against the responsible parties. He also asked to make sure there was no illegal construction by the three wings of armed forces (navy, army, air force), and no more complaints against any of them must come to court now.
Military Should not be Controversial
Justice Minallah also questioned the climate change secretary whether his job was only to “plant trees”. According to reports, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam was absent due to testing positive for coronavirus. The judge shockingly remarked that corruption and lawlessness had flourished in the capital territory. He continued that it was not in the best public interest for the military to be controversial in any way. Monal Restaurant is illegally built on the national park, which is a protected area under the law, and no one can even cut the grass there.
The court also noted that the military was not autonomous and operated under the authority of the Ministry of Defense. It said that it was not a “good thing” for the navy to construct a golf course on encroached land, and no property shall be named after any institution. The judge remarked that the citizens respected the military so, if they infringed on state property, it would not send a good message.
CDA vs Armed Forces
Justice Minallah also mentioned how the low class had suffered poverty due to corruption and lawlessness. Before ordering the Defense Secretary to hand over the Monal Restaurant area to CDA, the judge reminded him that he once admitted that the golf course was illegal. IHC had also declared the navy’s sailing club and farmhouses on the national park area illegal and ordered their demolition. CDA Chairman Amer Ali Ahmed informed the court that he had sent a notice to the navy to takedown its sailing club.
Defense Secretary argued that the villages in the park area were also encroaching. The CDA chairman said that city’s master plans had been changed without any consideration, and every institution was encroaching somewhere or the other. He added that CDA would also present this matter before the cabinet because “when the government institutions stopped encroaching on the state’s land, no one else will dare to do so”.
However, the court failed to explain what would happen to almost 700 staff members of Monal Restaurant, who had been made jobless now.