SHC rescinds the official assignee’s acquisition of Mohatta Palace. The Sindh High Court on Thursday told the official assignee not to take possession of Qasr-e-Fatima, popularly known as Mohatta Palace, pending the outcome of a nearly 50-year-old suit over the heritage property.
While disposing of a series of intra-court appeals filed against orders of a single-judge bench, Aqeel Ahmed Abbasi also stated that due to the age of the matter, the final judgment/decree on the suit pending before the single-judge bench may be passed as soon as possible, preferably within four weeks of hearing concluding arguments from the parties’ lawyers.
Additionally, it added that a single bench had asked the province government and defendants to change the subject property’s name from Mohatta Palace to Qasr-e-Fatima in all papers, and that the change would be deferred until the suit’s ultimate disposition.
“However, the learned single judge may make appropriate orders to that effect, either with the assent of the parties or otherwise, at the time of resolving the subject suit’s ultimate fate,” the two-judge bench stated in its judgement.
Directive issued to change the name of the heritage building in all papers to Qasr-e-Fatima.
Additionally, it stated that all attorneys for parties must appear before the single bench on the next scheduled day, which the lawyers believe would be Dec 8.
“The suit may be taken up for argument on Dec 15, at which time counsel for the parties may make submissions on all factual and legal issues raised in the matter, and the single bench may issue appropriate orders and finally decide the suit by judgement or decree in accordance with the law,” it concluded.
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Last month, the division bench issued an interim order prohibiting the official assignee from assuming possession of property after the province government and the Mohatta Palace Gallery Trust, which operates a museum there, filed intra-court challenges against earlier single-judge bench judgments. Subsequently, adjoining neighbours of Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah’s heritage property in Clifton petitioned the court to overturn the single bench’s order.
On Oct 13, the single bench authorised the official assignee to take possession of the building for the purpose of establishing a medical college, which would be managed independently with the parties’ permission.
Additionally, the bench said in another decision that all documentation must refer to the heritage property as Qasr-e-Fatima.
The provincial government, on the other hand, stated in its appeal that an assistant advocate general consented to the impugned decision of Oct 13 without authority since he lacked instructions to record his consent, and so the consent was not binding on the appellants.
Litigation filed in 1971 by a relative of Fatima Jinnah against the Shireen Jinnah Charitable Trust and others about the administration of her moveable and immovable estates, including Qasr-e-Fatima.
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