ISLAMABAD: Unauthorised and illegal construction of lawyers’ chambers within a football ground and a car parking lot at F8 Markaz continues despite the Islamabad High Court intervention, protests by traders, community members and local government representatives.The brazen occupation of the football ground is being followed by construction of multi-storey offices for lawyers around district court premises. CDA officials say they are helpless because lawyers turn violent whenever enforcement teams try to stop and undo the construction. As pictures suggest, the inaction by CDA has encouraged more lawyers to turn their single offices into at least double storey structures in blatant violation of the rule of law and respect for it. Lawyer bodies, most judges and the CDA seem to now look the other way as appropriation of public park – both football ground and the parking lot next to expensive commercial buildings continues.A CDA report says that lawyers are not only encroaching the said public facility but they have also encroached state land worth millions of rupees, which was recently retrieved by the civic body after removing a hotel set-up namely ‘Pehalwan Restaurant’ from the site. A portion of the football ground has already been appropriated by lawyers but now around 140 new chambers are being constructed on remaining area and nobody is in position to stop the lawyers as they have already obtained a restraining order from the court of Senior Civil Judge-II (West). Officials of companies located at these commercial buildings pay hefty rent every year but in this case lawyers, who defend the rule of law before courts on a daily basis, are acting as encroaching monsters, gobbling up public property, said one of the officials.Interestingly, the Supreme Court Bar Association is running a commercial hotel constructed at a plot in G5, which CDA had awarded it for lawyers’ welfare. Although Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddique of the Islamabad High Court recently criticised the move and directed the Capital Development Authority (CDA) to submit a report on the issue and also sought the help of senior bar members present in the court at that time to resolve the matter, most senior lawyers chose to stay quiet. Nor is any counsel ready to take up petitions challenging these blatant encroachments. A report in this regard has been fixed to be heard on January25, 2018. The lawyers are trying to complete the construction work on ground before the next date of hearing.“Instead of ordering to maintain the status quo on site, the learned judge restrained us to not interfere in the illegal construction by lawyers and give a long date for the next hearing,” a senior official in the CDA told Daily Times on the condition of anonymity, who added: “When courts will give relief under the pressure than how we can take action against the well-organised and charged lawyers.” Earlier, it was also highlighted by this scribe at the time when the lawyer community was holding seminars for late philanthropist Abdul Sattar Edhi that the community should first vacate the grabbed land of Edhi Foundation, which was originally reserved for its office.When contacted, the Islamabad Bar Association (IBA) president said that lawyers are forced to construct their chambers on the land of football ground as they don’t have a place to sit. “It is not happening for the first time, the practice has been going on since 1988 and it is the responsibility of the government to provide facilities to the lawyers,” he argued.These are professionals who charged exorbitant fees, and even if they do some charity work, they cannot occupy state land using charity as a pretext, said the owner of one of the commercial buildings in the area. “Our clients suffer due to congestion and the ongoing illegal construction activity in the parking area adjacent to our buildings. Where is the government and the rule of law, asked the owner, requesting not to be identified.Published in Daily Times, December 30th 2017.