SC terms laws allowing commercial activities on military land ‘unconstitutional’

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ISLAMABAD – Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Gulzar Ahmed on Tuesday termed the laws that allow the use of land meant for defence purposes for commercial activities unconstitutional, saying that the land not being used for defence purposes should be returned to the government.

A three-judge bench headed by the chief justice and comprising Justice Qazi Mohammad Amin Ahmed and Justice Ijazul Ahsan was hearing the case related to military lands being used for commercial gains.

Defence Secretary (retired) Lieutenant General Mian Hilal appeared in the court and submitted a report which was declared “unsatisfactory” by the top judge.

The court observed that the strategic lands can only be used for defence purposes, and ordered the defence secretary to re-submit a report within four months.

CJP Gulzar noted that cinemas, petrol pumps, housing societies, shopping malls and marriage halls were being constructed on the state land. “Does these things serve defence purposes,” the top judge grilled the defence secretary.

He remarked that cantonment land should be returned to the government after defence objectives were met.

Justice Qazi Amin remarked that the army should not engage in petty business by compromising on its bigger objectives, adding that it should be mindful of institution’s sanctity.

The defence secretary informed the court that a joint committee of all three armed forces had been set up to check violations of the law.

The CJP further remarked that allotting house to senior officers of the army did not fall under defence purposes.

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