Sunday October 17, 2021

Can SC judge head panel to develop lawyers’ housing sector in capital?

August 24, 2021
Can SC judge head panel to develop lawyers’ housing sector in capital?

ISLAMABAD: Encouraged by the recent Islamabad High Court (IHC) decision suspending plot allotments to judges in F-14 and F-15 sectors of Islamabad, local landowners have filed a petition in the same court on Monday challenging the setting up of a Land Supervisory Committee under a Supreme Court judge to facilitate smooth acquisition of land for a new sector in the capital for top lawyers.

These owners of land in Mouza Mohryan are aggrieved that the Land Supervisory Committee being headed by an SC judge has imposed section 4 and is making compulsory acquisitions of their lands at a much lower rate than the market value. They are seeking a court order against the legality of such a committee besides a further increase in rates for the acquisition of their land.

The petition -- Ahsan Imtiaz Bhatty vs FGEHA etc. – says: “An Honourable Judge of the august Supreme Court of Pakistan may not issue directions to the executive, except through a judicial order.Any direction passed by an honourable judge of the august Supreme Court of Pakistan in the capacity of Chairman, Land Supervisory Committee ought to be declared unlawful.”

The News recently reported about the setting up of the Land Supervisory Committee to oversee the progress of the development of a housing scheme for the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) at Park Road Islamabad by the Federal Government Employees Housing Authority (FGEHA).

According to the minutes of the 13th executive board meeting of the FGEHA, as per the line of action proposed by the Committee, the SCBA would ensure that all cases regarding the land pending in various courts would be withdrawn by the landowners.

The SCBA would also facilitate FGEHA in talks for the further processing of land with the remaining owners belonging to the authority. The committee had proposed that the scheme should be launched in phases of which Phase 1 would comprise 4,100 kanals and would be reserved for the members of the SCBA. It was said that the SCBA would be responsible to provide the FGEHA with peaceful possession of 4,100 kanals of land in Mouza Mohrian and provide a 150 feet wide access to the site consisting of 90 kanals passing through Mouza Tamma after which the FGEHA would carry out the development work.

The landowners of these mouzas, however, are complaining that they are being offered a very low price for the land being acquired for the housing scheme. They insist that in a decision, the IHC has already directed that the land should be acquired at market price.

The Chairman Land Supervisory Committee directed FGEHA to impose Section 4 on the remaining available land in Mouza Mohrian for further expansion and to cope with the shortfall if required.

CJ IHC Justice Athar Minallah on Friday suspended allotment of plots to the capital’s judiciary in sectors F-14 and F-15, observing that this award of land was sheer conflict of interest. The CJ IHC was hearing a petition filed by property owners in villages Thalla Syedan and Jhangi Syedan in Islamabad district against acquisition of their land.

During the hearing of the matter, Justice Minallah remarked: “It has been reported that the Federal Government Employees Housing Authority had recently held a ballot for allotment of plots in F-14 and F-15. The list indicates that virtually every judicial officer of the district courts of Islamabad, who are expected to resolve and adjudicate upon the grievances and rights of the affected landowners, is a beneficiary.”

The CJ IHC added, “It, prima facie, raises questions regarding conflict of interest because the plots are given to the beneficiaries at substantially lower prices than the current market rates and thus each beneficiary has financial interest.”