KARACHI: The Sindh High Court has issued a directive to the provincial culture and heritage authorities, calling for a comprehensive list of properties that have been removed from the heritage buildings roster since 1996.
This development emerged during a court hearing about a lawsuit challenging the permission for demolition and the issuance of a no-objection certificate (NOC) in 2004 by the Karachi Building Control Authority and in 2021 by the Culture Department, respectively.
As per the details, the plaintiffs argued that the property in question had previously been designated as a protected heritage site due to its remarkable artistic and architectural significance.
They further revealed that in 2003, an NOC for renovation and the replacement of doors, windows, and columns was obtained from the culture department.
Subsequently, in 2004, the then Karachi Building Control Authority had allegedly granted permission for demolition under specific conditions, a move deemed illegal by the plaintiffs.
According to the plaintiffs, TPL Properties Private Limited acquired the property in 2005, fully aware of its heritage status.
In subsequent years, the company sought permission from the culture department to conduct exterior cleaning and replace damaged windowpanes.
However, the plaintiffs contended that in 2008, cultural authorities decided that the existing building structure should not be demolished, and a technical committee would oversee the preservation and conservation work for adaptive reuse.
Their argument further asserted that in April 2021, the Culture Department and the Sindh Building Control Authority had improperly issued an NOC for the demolition of the building.
The plaintiffs sought the annulment of the demolition permission and NOC and requested a restraining order to prevent any further demolition or construction on the contested property.
Previously, the SHC had placed the culture department, Sindh Building Control Authority, and other defendants on notice, instructing them to provide comments on the status of the property in question.
During the recent proceedings, Aleem Lashari, the secretary of the advisory committee of cultural heritage, appeared before the court and requested additional time to compile a comprehensive list of all buildings that had been delisted since 1996, when the initial heritage buildings listing was conducted under the Sindh Cultural Heritage (Preservation) Act, 1994.
He also pledged to include records of orders related to such delisting. The bench, adjourning the case until October 9, directed the secretary to furnish these details within one week.