Official assignee restrained from taking over Mohatta Palace.

KARACHI -- The Sindh High Court on Monday restrained the official assignee from taking over the possession of Qasr-e-Fatima, commonly known as Mohatta Palace, till Nov 18 as the provincial government filed an intra-court appeal against an earlier order of the SHC.

A division bench headed by Justice Aqeel Ahmed Abbasi also issued notices for next hearing to the respondents/legal heirs of the plaintiff, who had filed a suit in 1971 about Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah's heritage property located in Clifton.

The Sindh government, through the culture secretary and director general antiquities and archaeology, filed an appeal against two orders of a single-judge bench directing the official assignee to take over the building and to set up a medical college/hospital there as well as not to call the property in question with any name other than Qasr-e-Fatima.

At the outset of the hearing, Sindh Advocate General Salman Talibuddin submitted that in pursuant of the impugned order, the official assignee had written a letter to him as well as the director of the culture department scheduling a meeting on Nov 3 for the purpose of facilitating his taking over possession of the property.

SHC issues notices on Sindh govt plea against order to set up medical college at heritage building

He submitted that a provincial law officer attended the meeting and requested for postponement of the handing over of the property on the ground that an appeal was being filed against the order.

He submitted that the official assignee had postponed the meeting till Nov 9 when he would take over the building in question to the great prejudice and an irreparable loss of the appellants unless the impugned orders were suspended.

At this, Justice Abbasi reminded him that an assistant advocate general (AAG) had also given consent for establishing a medical college on the premises of the property in question.

The AG submitted that the AAG was a junior officer and was appointed only a couple of months ago.

The bench also inquired from Advocate Faisal Siddiqui, the counsel for Mohatta Palace Gallery Trust, as how did it establish a museum and who had given the trust possession of the palace.

He submitted that his client was given possession by the provincial government, which had formed the trust.

Advocate Khwaja Shamsul Islam, representing the respondents, requested the bench to fix the...

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