Court declares giving of UoP’s garden land to varsities illegal

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The Peshawar High Court has declared illegal the decision taken by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chief minister to hand over a vast piece of land of botanical garden of the University of Peshawar (UoP) at Azakhel to two other universities for setting up their campuses.

A bench comprising Justice Yahya Afridi and Justice Ms Mussarat Hilali accepted a writ petition field by the Peshawar University Teachers Association (Puta) challenging the decision of the chief minister.

“For reasons to be recorded later the instant writ petition is accepted to the extent that the action of the chief minister of Feb 24 and steps taken in pursuance thereof whereby part of the property leased to the University of Peshawar for botanical garden has been allocated and transferred for establishing of Air University and Technical University is illegal and without lawful authority,” the bench ruled in its short order.

The Puta had filed the petition through its president Dr Fazle Nasir and general secretary Fayyaz Ali, requesting the court to declare the impugned decision as illegal and without jurisdiction as the land belonged to UoP where the Higher Education Commission had invested a heavy amount of money for establishment of the botanical garden, a centre of biodiversity and public park.

The petitioner’s counsel, Mian Mohibullah Kakakhel, argued that on Feb 24 the chief minister presided over an official meeting and gave a decision that the botanical garden and centre of biodiversity belonging to the UoP should be shrunk from 83 acres (677 kanals) to 100 kanals and the remaining part of the land should be given to the AIR University and Technical University.

He stated that the provincial government being part of the Biodiversity Action Plan had transferred 83 acres of Azakhel Park for establishment of the centre of plant biodiversity and botanical garden on Sept 29, 2005. It is added that a proper deed agreement was signed between the district government, Nowshera, and UoP on Dec 16, 2005 in a public ceremony held at Azakhel Park in the presence of then chief minister.

Mr Kakakhel stated that the UoP syndicate approved the establishment of centre of plant biodiversity, including the botanical garden, on Dec 10, 2003. He said that HEC provided a development grant of Rs38 million to UoP for development of infrastructure for the centre and garden.

It is stated that the Directorate of Centre of Plant Biodiversity was made functional in Feb 2006.

Advocate general Lateef Yousafzai opposed the writ petition, contending that the land was leased out to UoP, but so far it had utilised only 77 kanal whereas rest of the land was lying barren.

He argued that with the establishment of the two universities numerous job opportunities would be created and students would get education facilities.

UoP’s counsel Waseeemuddin Khattak supported the contention of the petitioner.

Source: Dawn.