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Bahria Town case: SC says foreign amounts remitted to its account without permission

November 28, 2023

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Monday observed that money was remitted to its account without seeking its permission, unnecessarily involving the court with money detected by the National Crime Agency (NCA).

A three-member bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa and comprising Justice Amin-ud-Din Khan and Justice Athar Minallah issued a written order in Bahria Town case.

The court on November 23 had heard the Bahria Town case.“It is unfortunate that without seeking permission of the Supreme Court amounts were remitted into its account and the Supreme Court was unnecessarily involved with money detected by NCA, which probably were proceeds of criminal activity which was detected by NCA, seized and then frozen by AFOs,” says the written order.

The Supreme Court of Pakistan building. — AFP/File
The Supreme Court of Pakistan building. — AFP/File

Therefore, the amount received from abroad and the markup earned thereon be remitted to the Government of Pakistan, said the written order.The court noted that Bahria Town has not deposited into the account of the Supreme Court the installments it had agreed to pay for a considerable time, and is in default of the consent order.

Therefore, the amounts constituting a portion of the cost of land which is of the people of Sindh should be remitted to the Government of Sindh, said the written order.

The court clarified that the amounts received from abroad in foreign currency and the markup earned thereon is to be paid to the Government of Pakistan and the balance amount in the account in the name of the Registrar of the Supreme Court is to be paid to the Sindh government

The written order authored by Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa said Bahria Town counsel Salman Aslam Butt submitted that Bahria Town was to receive 16,896 acres of land in District Malir but only received 11,747 acres, and there was a shortfall of 5,149 acres. Bahria Town had agreed to pay Rs460 billion in installments within a period of seven years, “from 1 September 2009 and concluding on 31 August 2026, for the 16,896 acres”. Bahria Town was paying the installments but when, according to its counsel, it discovered the shortfall of 5,149 acres it stopped payments.

Later, on Dec 14, 2019, a civil miscellaneous application (CMA) was filed on behalf of Bahria Town but the application remained pending and was fixed for hearing in Court on 18 October 2023. Bahria Town also filed a CMA on February 16, 2021, seeking ‘reasonable’ time for paying the amount.

Only once the area of land in possession of Bahria Town was determined could it alleged that there was a shortfall. Therefore, the court on November 8, 2023 ordered a survey of the land.

Sindh Advocate General (AG) Hassan Akbar told the court that a survey of the land was undertaken by the Survey of Pakistan scientifically by using the Global Navigation Satellite System Receivers in the presence of Bahria Town’s own survey team.

The report stated that Bahria Town is in possession of 19,931.63 acres; 17,709.45 acres in District Malir and 2,222.18 acres in District Jamshoro.

The unauthorised possession of land in Bahria Town’s possession is 3,035.63 acres and is identified in different patches and shown on the map.

“It appears that Bahria Town filed the applications, alleging shortfall in land, merely as a pretext to avoid paying the installments which Bahria Town had agreed to pay,” said the written order.

The court further noted that payments were required to be made by Bahria Town in installments. The balance payments should be made in 36 equal monthly installments along with four percent markup w.e.f. September 1, 2023, to the account of SC Registrar with the National Bank of Pakistan.

The court dismissed Bahria Town’s CMAs.The court directed that copy of this order be also sent to the UK NCA.The court disposed of all the applications, and imposed a fine of Rs1 million on Bahria Town for filing “frivolous applications and the CRP and wasted its time”.