Land merger with Bahria Town: LHC to hear case on daily basis

RAWALPINDI, Nov 7: The Lahore High Court (LHC) Rawalpindi bench on Wednesday decided to hear the case of illegal merger of 2,880 kanals of private housing scheme with Bahria Town on a day-to-day basis.

The LHC bench comprising Justice Shahid Saeed on June 21, 2012 had declared the merger of Revenue Employees Cooperative Housing Society (RECHS) with Bahria Town as illegal and directed the “Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE) to investigate the matter”.

The ACE inquiry, however, was stayed by the LHC division bench on July 11 after Bahria Town filed an appeal against the orders and requested the court to grant it time for compensating the affected persons of the housing society.

According to the court record, the merger was approved by the former Punjab chief minister Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi despite opposition by the then Punjab minister for cooperative Malik Mohammad Anwar.

Malik Anwar had on December 2004 rejected the proposal of Malik Riaz, the owner of Bahria Town, for the said merger and observed that “such an action would set a wrong precedent”.

In the proposal Malik Riaz had offered the development of RECHS after merger of the society with Bahria Town but later sold 2,880 kanals of RECHS land to Defence Housing Authority (DHA).

The aggrieved RECHS members challenged the merger in the LHC.

In their petition they informed the court that instead of developing the plots Bahria Town sold the land to DHA and gave no compensation or alternative land to them.

They argued that the merger was illegal as the ad hoc administrator of RECHS, Col (retired) Abdullah Siddique, who signed the merger deed, was appointed for 90 days and was not the competent person to take the decision.

A number of aggrieved members of RECHS appeared before the LHC division bench comprising Justice Ijaz Ahmed and Justice Malik Shehzad Ahmed Khan on Wednesday and informed the court that the matter had been delayed for last several weeks as Bahria Town sought adjournment at every date of hearing.

Qaiser Qadeer Qureshi, legal adviser of Bahria Town, told the court that the management of Bahria Town has evolved a plan to compensate the aggrieved members of RECHS.

He said the management had also offered alternative plots at phase-IX of Bahria Town or in DHA phase-I to the members.
According to him, retrieval of the same plot which they had lost as a result of the merger is not possible.

Tanvir Ahmed, one of the RECHS members told Dawn that the DHA, after purchasing the RECHS land from Bahria Town, had developed Askari XIV there.

The army officers from the ranks of majors to brigadiers had constructed their houses on RECHS land and it is now impossible to retrieve the land. “The court, however, may punish those culprits who initiated and facilitated the illegal merger,” he added.