ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court of Pakistan has given the go-ahead to a housing scheme of Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA).
A four-member bench of Supreme Court of Pakistan chaired by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar on August 10 ordered the announcement of an award pertaining to the acquisition of land for the housing scheme, on the terms and conditions mutually agreed by the SCBA and Federal Government Employees Housing Foundation (FGEHF).
The latest agreement between the FGEHF and the SCBA says: “The price of the land shall be assessed in accordance with the assessment already at the time of issuance of notification u/s 4 of Land Acquisition Act (LAA) 1894”.
In its June 14 judgement, the Supreme Court had said: “… Mr. Waqas Ali Mehmood, Director General (DG) FGEHF states that 8,200 kanals of land are required to provide plots to lawyers and government servants; in order to do so, instead of acquiring the land as it may delay the object of achieving the end goal expeditiously, FGEHF with the permission of all the stake holders, is endeavouring to purchase the property through negotiations, there are considerable sellers who are on board and have almost agreed thereto, however this process requires some more time and hopefully shall be finalized within a period of six weeks."
"This position is also accepted and endorsed by Syed Kaleem Ahmed Khursheed, President of the SCBA and Mr. Safdar Hussain Tarrar, Secretary of the SCBA. Let a report be submitted after six weeks. Relist,” the Supreme Court directed.
At its meeting on February 20, the SCBA acknowledged the legal fallacy of this approach of acquiring land under the Land Acquisition Act 1894. It was noted at the same meeting that a legal charge against a similar land acquisition within the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) had been upheld by the Islamabad High Court.
However, the FGEHF subsequently filed Criminal Miscellaneous Application No. 239–L/2018, praying “… In view of the position stated above, it is humbly submitted that as per decision of executive committee of the FGEHF in addition to the methodology of direct purchase of land as indicated in para 5 above, LAC may kindly be directed to announce award under section 11 of the LAA 1894 for 8,200 kanals of land under acquisition situated at villages Tamma and Mohrian at the earliest in order to put a stop to ongoing transactions of land under acquisition in said mauzas and to enable the FGEHF in conferring third party rights by issuance of Provisional Offer Letters of Allotment in favour of prospective allottees i.e. members of the SCBA and federal government employees.”
On the last day of its hearing on August 10, the Supreme Court accepted the pleas of the SCBA and the FGEHF, and passed the following order;
“…After deliberation and negotiation between the office bearers of the Bar, Land Acquisition Collector, Chief Commissioner ICT and DG FGEHF, a settlement has been arrived at which has been placed on the record by the President SCBA and signed by all the stakeholders in the matter. It has been requested that this settlement be made part of the order."
The order further reads:
1. It has been unanimously agreed that in pursuance of the issuance of notification u/s 4 and 17(4) 6 of LAA 1894 and objections u/s 9 of LAA 1894 that have already been decided, the award u/s 11 of Land Acquisition Act 1894, be announced within seven days by the Land Acquisition Collector, ICT.
2. It has further been agreed unanimously that consequent upon announcement of award under Land Acquisition Act 1894, FGEHF shall within 14 days of announcement of award issue provisional allotment letters investing third party ownership rights to the prospective allottees among members of the SCBA.
3. Land Acquisition Collector, ICT states that he shall take over the possession of the acquired land within 30 days of the award.
4. The price of Land shall be assessed in accordance with the assessment already at the time of issuance of notification u/s 4 of LAA 1894.
5. The DG FGEHF undertake to credit Rs5 Billion forthwith in account of Land Acquisition Collector, ICT, to match the amount deposited by the SCBA.
The Apex Court also directed all the officials responsible for fulfilling the objective of the agreement to comply with its terms and conditions in letter and spirit. “They shall submit a compliance report to this court within six weeks from today. In view of the above, matter stands disposed of.”
Speaking to The News, the SCBA secretary general Safdar Hussain Tarar said the Supreme Court has ordered the announcement of the awarding of land to the SCBAHS. If any land owner had grievances about the ascertained land prices, he would be heard by the LAC.