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Mosque can't be built on encroached land, notes SC judge.

Byline: Naeem Sahoutara

KARACHI -- The Supreme Court (SC) on Thursday sought record of the private land where a mosque and seminary had been allegedly built on an encroached piece.

A three-judge bench, headed by Justice Gulzar Ahmed, issued this directive while hearing a civil application filed by a private company, International Brands (Private) Limited, against alleged attempts to encroach upon some portion of a piece of commercial land by the prayer leader of a mosque.

The counsel of the company, Arshad Mohsin Tayebaley, told the court that his client had purchased Plot number F/2 X in Trans Lyari Quarters, Site, from the Pakistan Tobacco Company Limited, which executed a deed of assignment in respect of the land in favour of the applicant in 1996.

According to the lawyer, in 1965 the PTC had constructed a mosque named Mubarak Masjid with a Hujra on 7,015 square feet for the religious benefit and use of the workers and appointed Maulana Noor Muhammad Qureshi as its Pesh Imam (prayer leader).

Later the cleric started unauthorised construction for an accommodation for his family adjacent to the mosque, but it was demolished by the district magistrate concerned after an inquiry.

The counsel contended that the cleric still claimed the portion of the demolished structure and later involved religious organisations in this matter.

However, the Sindh High Court in Nov 2011 decreed a lawsuit instituted by the applicant in its favour, ordering the cleric to vacate the premises and refrain from interfering with the property.

The high court also restrained the applicant company from demolishing or disturbing the mosque or the seminary and told it to continue to use it for offering prayers and religious purposes.

However, the counsel submitted that in addition to the existence of the mosque and seminary now attempts were being made by the respondent to encroach upon the adjacent portion of the land for a graveyard.

During Thursday's proceedings, a bench member, Justice Sajjad Ali Shah, asked how prayers could be offered in a mosque allegedly built on an encroached piece of land. Justice Ahmed observed that whether the illegal occupation could be legitimised even after the passage of a century.

Addressing the respondent's counsel, the judge asked whether they had forgotten the example of the Masjid-i-Nabvi and asked him to cite a single example where the Khulfa-i-Rashideen had built a mosque on encroached land.

The judge further observed that if anyone wanted to build a mosque, it must be done in a legal way as building a mosque on encroached land amounted to defaming the Islam.

The bench members noted that Allah had not permitted building of a mosque on government land or on the property of private persons.

The counsel said that the applicant company was ready to offer the portion of the land where the mosque and the seminary had been built, but requested the court to restrain the respondents from unlawfully occupying the rest of the land for a graveyard.

The judges told the counsel for the parties to submit the original documents relating to the land in question by the next hearing and adjourned the matter.

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Publication:Dawn (Karachi, Pakistan)
Date:Dec 21, 2018
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