Thursday May 23, 2024

LHC CJ asks DHA to vacate govt land

By Our Correspondent
April 29, 2021

LAHORE: Hearing three petitions against the Defence Housing Authority (DHA), Lahore High Court Chief Justice Muhammad Qasim Khan on Wednesday directed DHA Administrator Brigadier Waheed Gul Sati, commissioner and deputy commissioner of Lahore to appear before court today (Thursday). The CJ also directed the Lahore CCPO to instruct all the SHOs to register FIRs on complaints of illegal occupation against the DHA. Chief Justice Khan was hearing petitions of three citizens seeking an order against the DHA not to disturb their lawful possession of 300 to 400 kanals which they had obtained on lease from Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB).

During the hearing, Justice Khan came hard on the Defence Housing Authority (DHA) for its involvement in illegal occupation of lands. The chief justice said the authority had made laws of their own choices and no one dares ask them.”

“They should stop playing havoc with the country. Uniform does not mean that they have got the licence to occupy people’s properties. They grab citizens’ properties whimsically,” the CJ remarked.

Addressing the CCPO, CJ Khan said the DHA was on a looting spree and “you should quit if you are afraid of them.”

The counsel representing the DHA argued that the Supreme Court had decided the matter in 2018 while the land was still in DHA's possession, so how could the ETPB award it on lease.

He said the administrator was unable to appear before this court because of his engagement in the Supreme Court in Islamabad. The CJ said he would issue order to raze all buildings built on occupied land, asking the counsel to ask the DHA administrator to appear before the court on Thursday (today) along with all the relevant record. The CJ also directed the commissioner and deputy commissioner to appear before the court today with the relevant record, including that of a 50-kanal land of the Lahore High Court which was occupied.

The CJ observed that there was a good post-retirement welfare plan for the service officers unlike police, judiciary and others. He questioned that had other institutions like police, judges and lawyers not rendered sacrifices for the country?

“They (DHA) have also illegally occupied 50 kanals of the Lahore High Court and I will have an FIR lodged against the DHA. Everyone is equal before the law. Men in uniform could not escape from crime. I am directing my registrar to write to the chief to inform him what they (DHA) are doing here," CJ Khan remarked.

When DHA’s counsel Altaur Rehman Khan expressed his ignorance about the occupation of the high court’s land, the chief justice said the authority concerned could be summoned to verify the fact.

Advocate Asif Imran Awan, the counsel for the petitioners, pointed out that no reply had been submitted to the petitions by the respondent/DHA.

Chief Justice Khan maintained that no one ever dared to refuse filing a reply in his court during his 11-year stay in the LHC. He said he had been serving as a high court judge for 11 years and was never scared to take the right action. “I know how to make them submit their reply. It is not their job to grab citizens’ land and properties. They are meant to serve the nation.”

“Do they appoint serving or retired officers in the DHA?” he asked the counsel for the housing authority. The counsel said retired officers worked in the DHA. However, he said the administrator was a serving officer.

During the proceedings, the judge asked DHA’s counsel regarding the administrator and directed him to appear in person before the court.

The chief justice directed a provincial law officer to also ensure the presence of the CCPO of Lahore. “If CCPO fears, ask him to send his IGP instead,” he told the law officer.

CCPO Ghulam Mahmood Dogar appeared before the court, as the CJ resumed hearing after a break. He also directed CCPO to appear before the court today to receive directions to register a case against the responsible. The court will resume hearing today (Thursday).