KARACHI, Nov 28: The Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered an immediate freeze on allotment and mutation of government land across the province and directed the Board of Revenue (BoR) to place on record the record of all property transfers done after the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto.
A five-member larger bench headed by Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali came down heavily on Senior Member of BoR Shahzar Shamoon when he placed on record a report regarding the revenue department record.
The bench also comprising Justices Khilji Arif Hussain, Sarmad Jalal Osmany, Amir Hani Muslim and Athar Saeed rejected the revenue department report terming it as “an eyewash”.
Justice Jamali expressed grave displeasure over inefficiency of the revenue department in reconstruction of the revenue record that was gutted in the violent activities in the aftermath of Ms Bhutto’s assassination.
He asked the senor member of BoR as to why the revenue record was not updated despite the court’s order. The official conceded that it was inefficiency on the part of the department and stated that work was in progress in rewriting the land record.
Justice Hani remarked that the inefficiency of the authorities could be judged by the fact that they could not update the record which was gutted five years ago.
Justice Jamali asked Mr Shamoon if he knew that there was a central record office of the revenue department in Hyderabad. He told the official that the record should have been updated with the help of the central record office by now.
Justice Hani remarked that the land belonging to a genuine owner was being mutated in others’ names and this practice must come to an end.
The bench also took exception to the conversion of 33-year lease into 99-year lease and observed that the government could not do it under the law.
The court said that the government land was being sold for a song without following the prescribed procedure.
Justice Jamali referred to cases against a former land utilisation secretary and observed that the chief minister was not empowered to sell government land at throwaway prices.
The bench gave time to the senior member of board of revenue to file a detailed report at least two days before the next date of hearing.
In the intervening time, the bench ordered, no allotment and mutation should be done.
It further ordered the official to place on record the entire record of mutation and allotments made after the destruction of the revenue record five years ago.
Rangers’ performance report termed ambiguous
The bench rejected a Rangers report and termed it incomplete and ambiguous.
While perusing the report, Justice Hani remarked that a suspect who was arrested by the paramilitary troops was handed over to police two days after his arrest.
To another entry in the Rangers’ report, the bench observed that a man was shown arrested for robbery, but no weapon was recovered from him.
The bench called the Rangers director-general and asked him as to what measures were taken to make effective coordination between the police and Rangers.
The DG informed the court that a high-level meeting with the police was held and strategy was chalked out.
The bench pointed out to the Rangers chief that the suspects arrested by the paramilitary troops were required to be handed over to the police immediately.
The court told the Rangers DG that the delayed handing over of the arrested suspects to police made grounds for their acquittal from courts.
Justice Osmany remarked that the Rangers’ report reflected that the suspects were handed over to police with an inordinate delay.
Delimitation in Karachi before polls assured
The secretary of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) requested the Supreme Court for a three-day reprieve for submitting a detailed report regarding the court’s order of delimiting constituencies in Karachi.
ECP Secretary Ishtiaq Ahmed submitted that the ECP was holding internal meetings on the matter and later meetings would be held with the representatives of police, law-enforcement agencies and revenue officials.
The bench asked him to explain the reasons for not following the apex court’s order of Oct 6, 2011, under the Delimitation of Constituencies Act 1974.
The ECP secretary submitted that he would hold meetings with the chief secretary and other government officials on Thursday.
He said that a meeting with other stakeholders of all political parties would also be held on Friday.
He assured the court that the delimitation of constituencies would be done before the coming general elections and that it was in favour of Karachi.
The bench directed him to prepare a strategy for the process of delimitation of constituencies in Karachi and present a report on the matter within three days.
The ECP official stated that a census was a prerequisite for delimitation which had not been completed.Justice Jamali remarked that delimitation should be done in a manner that political polarisation be minimised.
Possessing illicit arms to be made non-bailable offence
Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Waseem Ahmed submitted that the draft of the Arms Act 2012 had been signed by the law secretary and the chief secretary and on Friday the chief minister would approve the summary.
Advocate General Abdul Fatah Malik stated that the summary would be approved this week.
He said that the term for possessing illegal arms was being enhanced from seven to 10 years and the offence was being made non-bailable in the new law.
Justice Osmany directed the AG to follow the federal arms policy while making the new law. He said that provision regarding antique weapons should also be incorporated in the law.
The hearing was adjourned sine die.