Supreme Court Upholds IHC Decision to Seal Monal Restaurant, Orders Relocation Within Three Months

Supreme Court upholds IHC ruling to seal Monal Restaurant, orders relocation within three months to protect national park.
Supreme Court Upholds IHC Decision to Seal Monal Restaurant, Orders Relocation Within Three Months

The Supreme Court, headed by Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa, has upheld the Islamabad High Court's (IHC) January 11, 2022, judgment to seal and take possession of the Monal Restaurant. This decision reaffirms the Capital Development Authority's (CDA) and Islamabad Wildlife Management Board's (IWMB) directive to close the restaurant, while allowing its management to remove their property from the premises.


The high court had previously declared that the lease agreement between Monal and the CDA had expired, and a subsequent agreement on September 30, 2019, with the Remount, Veterinary and Farms Directorate was null and void.


On Tuesday, the Supreme Court instructed the CDA to assist the Monal Group of Companies in relocating the restaurant to a permissible location within three months. Chief Justice Isa emphasized the court’s priority in preserving the national park. The court also mandated that other restaurants on Pir Sohawa Road be treated similarly.


Additionally, the court ordered the monthly rent Monal had been depositing with a local civil court for the past three to four years be transferred to the IWMB. This fund transfer, represented by Advocate Umer Ijaz Gillani, aims to support wildlife preservation efforts.


The Supreme Court rejected a CDA report listing structures within the national park, including the Pak-China Centre, Sports Complex, Arts Council, and Pakistan National Monument. Chief Justice Isa expressed concern over these constructions and questioned the presence of commercial activities in the national park.


During the hearing, CDA Chairman Mohammad Ali Randhawa revealed that the Margalla Hills experienced 21 forest fires this season, requiring significant efforts to control. The court inquired about the potential involvement of CDA officials in starting these fires, to which Randhawa acknowledged the presence of "black sheep" within the organization. He also mentioned the use of helicopters from the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) to combat the fires, approved by the cabinet.


The relocation of Monal Restaurant within the specified timeframe is crucial for maintaining the integrity of the national park, setting a precedent for managing commercial activities in protected areas.