RAWALPINDI, Sept 6: A division bench of Lahore High Court (LHC) on Thursday suspended the order of a single bench that declared illegal the acquisition of 9,996 kanals of land for DHA phase II extension in different villages, including Daducha where the Punjab government had planned to construct a water reservoir for the garrison city.
In an earlier decision LHC Justice Shahid Saeed on June 21, while hearing 20 petitions of affected villagers, had set aside the acquisition of land in the areas of Kahota, Kallar Syedan and Rawalpindi tehsil by Punjab government in 2006, for Army Welfare Housing Society later DHA.
The single bench declared the acquisition as unlawful because there was no public purpose involved in obtaining the land saying the land was only being obtained for DHA that is a housing scheme eyeing only on profit.
LHC division bench comprising Justice Maqbool Ahmed Bajwa and Justice Ali Baqir Najafi on Thursday issued the notices to the respondents, including the Punjab government and the federation and sought their replies and adjourned the hearing till second week of October.
According to the DHA counsel Mohammad Ilyas Sheikh, the 20 petitioners instead of seeking relief from the civil court in the matter related to land dispute, directly filed the petitions in the high court and the single bench without keeping that aspect in mind, declared the acquisition illegal.
He said the acquisition can only be challenged under the section 18 of the land acquisition act (LAC) in the civil court because the petitioners were seeking compensation and after the decision of the civil court they could file an appeal in the LHC.It may be pertinent to mention here that the Punjab government already decided to construct a dam at the Daducha about 11 years ago to provide 25 million gallons daily (MGD) water to Rawalpindi and had allocated over Rs7 billion for the project.
The project was abandoned in 2005, when the DHA and Bahria Town acquired the land for DHA phase II extension proposed for the dam around the Daducha village and they asked the Punjab government to construct the dam about 3 kilometres upstream to its original site because they wanted to use the water from Daducha dam as well.
DCO Rawalpindi Saqib Zafar, when contacted said that the court order would not hinder the construction of the dam because the competent authorities had finalised the project.
He, however, said that in order to stop the encroachment and construction of the housing society in the area, he had imposed section 4 and 144 in the Daducha and nearby areas.