ISLAMABAD, Jan 30: Bad days look lying ahead for the elitist Gun & Country Club as its lust for more land than the 44 acres it had occupied in the serene environs of the Rose and Jasmine Garden for 10 years has landed it in trouble.
A two-member bench of the Supreme Court, which started rehearing an objection to the lease of additional 28 acres to the club after Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry withdrew from the case, was informed on Wednesday that the lease of the original 44 acres itself had expired.
What is more, the club structures were raised without seeking approval of the Building Department of the Capital Development Authority (CDA).
Initially developed for shooting events for the 9th South Asian Federation Games held in Islamabad in 2001, the Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) handed the sprawling, state-of-th-art facility to the Gun Club after the SAF Games, with a request to allow constructions on the land cleared of the trees.
In October 2011, the Supreme Court initiated suo motu action on a news regarding allotment of a huge chunk of land worth billions of rupees to the Gun Club at a cheap rate of Rs10 million per acre.
On January 9, the court reserved its findings in the case. On Wednesday Advocate Misbah Sharif, assisted by CDA's Director Planning Khaliqur Rehman told the Supreme Court that the 33-year lease granted to the Pakistan Sports Complex ended on January 25, 2013. That lease has not been extended or renewed as yet.
In 1977, the PSB was allotted 145 acres in Zone III A of the federal capital, reserved in the Master Plan for sports and recreation purposes. Of these 145 acres, 44 acres were reserved for shooting ranges at the Pakistan Sports Complex.
Originally, owned and established by the PSB in November 2002, the control of the Gun Club was handed to private persons, with Faisal Sakhi Butt as its administrator.
During Wednesday's proceedings, the Supreme Court bench, comprising Justice Gulzar Ahmed and Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed, was critical why the land leased out by the CDA for public purpose on subsidised rates later became an exclusive club for the elites.
It was visibly disturbed when told that the club facilities had been constructed without any approval of the CDA.
Apart from shooting ranges, the club also offers facilities like gymnasium, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, steam/sauna baths, aerobics and health bar, floodlit sand volleyball court, archery and clay tennis courts.
“Who authorised these constructions and what CDA was doing to comply with the zoning rules when the construction was going on,” asked Justice Azmat.
Since satisfactory answers were not forthcoming, the Supreme Court decided to summon the senior officers of the CDA’s building department with complete record of the construction on the disputed land by February 12.