Plots merger with Bahria Town LHC special bench to decide cases

Bahria Town

Bahria Town (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

ISLAMABAD, March 26: A bench of the Supreme Court on Monday requested the Chief Justice of Lahore High Court to create a special bench to combine and decide, within two months, the scattered cases it had been hearing relating to the complaints of members of a housing society that their plots were transferred to the Bahria Town without their consent.

A three-member bench of the Supreme Court, Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, Justice Khilji Arif Hussain and Justice Tariq Parvez, had taken up a number of the complaints separately, in which different orders had been passed according to the nature of the case.In one case, Major (retired) Azhar Ali Khan and Mian Riazuddin had submitted to the court that they, along with 700 others, got plots in the Revenue Officers Housing Scheme in 1985. Later, a deal was struck to merge 214 kanals of the scheme land with Bahria Town for the purpose of developing it for which each plot holder had to pay Rs300,000, same as the cost of the plot.

But, in 2007, the Bahria Town sold that land to the Defence Housing Authority (DHA) and, according to the complainants, Lt Col (retired) Abdullah of the National Accountability Board (NAB), appointed to administrator for three months to close the deal, “transferred” the entire land in the name of DHA without any legal basis for that.

While Bahria Town had purchased1,300 plots in the original housing scheme from their owners, the petitioners said they and some 700 others chose not to sell their plots.

Subsequently, they went to the Rawalpindi bench of Lahore High Court which ordered the district and sessions judge of Rawalpindi to conduct an inquiry into the matter.

The sessions judge in his report acknowledged that it had been established from the records that 214 kanals of land along with other assets of the officers housing scheme were transferred to the Bahria Town to establish Askari 14 Housing Scheme against the interest of the original owners.

The Supreme Court observed that since the dispute is pending before the high court, “propriety demands that the high court should decide the matter expeditiously by clubbing all the pending petitions after providing opportunity to all the concerned in view of the miseries of the affected persons.”

Meanwhile, in a different case, Advocate Zulfikar Maluka withdrew a petition regarding acquisition of land by the Bahria Town in 2006 to develop Bahria Golf City in the picturesque village of Salkhaiter, some 15 kilometres from Rawal Dam.

The case was withdrawn since a similar petition was pending before the high court.

The counsel argued that the previous Punjab authorities had allegedly acquired the land by misusing the Land Acquisition Act 1894 to develop a private project by Bahria Town Scheme.Salkather is home to over 250 families who lived in nearly 1,000 houses. According to the villagers, they had inherited the land and over 1,500 individuals depended on the meagre agricultural produces from the fields.

Earlier, in an application before the Supreme Court, the affected residents of the area had accused the proprietors of Bahria Town of “forcefully taking over some 786 kanals of land of their forefathers.” The Bahria Town also wanted to establish a five-star hotel there.

In yet another case, the apex court granted more time to the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to complete its inquiry till April 9 into the mysterious murder of Mohammad Fayyaz, a security guard in the Bahria Town.

The murder case was lodged in 2008 by Shaukat Ali, a supervisor in the Defence Housing Authority (DHA), but since October 10, 2010, no progress has been madeSource: