–Court rejects land swap agreement between Bahria Town and Sindh govt, orders both parties to return each other’s land
–Bahria Town also held responsible for encroachment on forest land in Takht Pari area near Islamabad and illegal constructions in Murree
KARACHI: The Supreme Court (SC) on Friday barred Bahria Town from selling or allotting land in the Bahria Town Karachi project, as it struck down the shady allotment of land to the company by the Sindh government through the Malir Development Authority (MDA).
In a 2-1 verdict, the bench hearing the case also directed the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to file references against those responsible for legal violations as well as decide the case within three months.
“Having thus considered, we are constrained to declare that the grant of the land to the MDA, its exchange with the land of Bahria Town and anything done pursuant thereto being against the provisions of COGLA 1912 [Colonization of Government Lands Act, 1912] and statement of conditions are void ab initio and as such have no existence,” the court ruled.
“The government land would go back to the government and the land of Bahria Town exchanged for the government land would go back to Bahria Town,” the court ordered.
Despite this, the court also kept the interests of those people Bahria Town has already sold the land to in mind.
“Since a great deal of work has been done by the Bahria Town and a third-party interest has been created in favour of hundreds of allotees, the land could be granted to the Bahria Town afresh by the Board of Revenue under the provisions of COGLA 1912.”
“What would be the terms and conditions of grant, what would be the price of the land, whether it would be the one at which the Bahria Town sold the land to the people by and large, how much of government land and how much of the private land has been utilized by the Bahria Town, and what Bahria Town is entitled to receive in terms of money on account of development of the land are the questions to be determined by the implementation bench of this court.”
“We, therefore, request the Honorable Chief Justice of Pakistan to constitute a bench for the implementation of this judgment in its letter and spirit,” it asked.
“Bahria Town shall not sell any plot, built-up unit, apartment etc after the announcement of this judgment. Any allotment made after the announcement of this judgment shall be void,” the court ordered.
The court further ruled that, “The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) shall pick up the thread from where it left and take its investigation to its logical end. The investigation report which was submitted in the Court and sealed under its order may now be collected for further action. The investigation be completed within a period of three months from the date of announcement of this judgement and a reference be filed in the Accountability Court against all those who are found responsible for causing loss to the state exchequer.”
“We have been told that government land has also been allotted to DHA and many other societies on cheaper rates as compared to the rates in this case. If so, we would request the Honourable Chief Justice of Pakistan to take Suo Moto action in this behalf so that like be treated alike.”
Bahria Town was also held responsible by the court for encroachment on forest land in the Takht Pari area near Islamabad and its constructions in the Murree area were also declared illegal. Work on the Murree Housing Society was ordered to be stopped.
The court directed the relevant forest department, revenue department and the Survey of Pakistan to conduct a fresh demarcation in the Takht Pari area after issuing notices to the forest department and Bahria Town to submit a report within one month before the SC implementation bench. NAB was also directed to look into who made the illegal allotments in Rawalpindi.