Hiring of private counsel in riverfront case interrogated

Lahore: The Lahore High Court was told that the Punjab government engaged Barrister Syed Ali Zafar as its private counsel in the petitions against violations of environmental laws in Ravi Riverfront Urban Development Project.

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As Justice Shahid Karim resumed hearing on the matter, an associate lawyer of Barrister Zafar submitted a power of attorney on behalf of the provincial government.

The lawyer sought an adjournment from the court, saying the counsel needed some time to go through the case.

Advocate Sheraz Zaka, the counsel for a petitioner, raised an objection and said the government could not appoint a private counsel in the light of a judgment rendered by the Supreme Court in 2017.

The judge also extended the stay order against the commencement of works on the development project.

The judge had initially restrained the government from carrying out any work on the project before the completion of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).

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Later, the judge also stayed the land acquisition process for the project after a petition questioned forced acquisition of agricultural land by the government.

At a previous hearing, Justice Karim had expressed serious concern over the existing law for acquisition of land and hinted at passing a detailed judgment on the issue.

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