Terming use of cantonment lands a "matter of embarrassment" for both judiciary and military establishment, Pakistan supreme court said that the country's law does not allow land meant for defence purposes to be used for commercial gains and such land must be surrendered to the government.
According to Dawn newspaper on Wednesday, a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed on Tuesday took up a case relating to the illegal use of cantonment board lands in Karachi observed that the lands acquired for strategic purposes had to be surrendered back to the state the moment the lands were used for commercial gains other than the defence purposes.
"I wonder why the army has to venture into these projects," observed Justice Qazi Mohammad Amin Ahmed, also a member of the SC bench.
The court questioned the military for conducting commercial activities on government land and described the engagement of army in commercial activities as "unconstitutional and illegal".
The chief justice observed managing cinema halls, wedding halls or huge shopping malls, petrol pumps or housing societies on military lands was not legally sustainable as those lands were not meant for commercial activities.
However, the defence secretary tried to explain that the definition of strategic use for defence purposes had a wide connotation that also included commercial purposes, arguing that it was essential to keep the morale of the defence forces high during peace time.
"But where the garrison is located on such lands," wondered the chief justice, adding that one would find only houses on such lands. (ANI)