ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan has joined a legal battle to secure an apartment in the most scenic location of the federal capital.
The PTI chief challenged the cancellation of lease of a piece of land to BNP (Private) Limited by the CDA which was meant for the five-star Grand Hyatt hotel and residential apartments.
In July last year, the CDA cancelled the 99-year lease of the land to the BNP for violations of the building bylaws and the lease agreement.
The IHC single-member bench, comprising Justice Athar Minallah, last month upheld the CDA decision.
80 buyers of apartments have challenged IHC ruling in favour of CDA decision to cancel lease of land to the builder
Mr Khan is among 240 people who had purchased serviced apartments in the high-rise twin towers.
The other affected buyers included State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) Governor Mohammad Ashraf Wathra, Pemra Chairman Absar Alam, former chief justice of Pakistan Nasirul Mulk, former Lahore High Court (LHC) chief justice Iftikhar Hussain Chaudhry, Minister Jam Kamal Khan, former naval chief Mohammad Asif Sandila, former foreign secretary Salman Bashir, retired Lt Gen Ahsan Azhar Hayat, television celebrity Faryal Gauhar, former Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Ehsan Mani, former defence minister Ahmed Mukhtar, a son of the incumbent defence minister Khawaja Mohammad Asad, politician Kashmala Tariq and former chief land commissioner Sajid Hotiana.
According to the details submitted by the BNP to the IHC, Imran Khan booked a serviced apartment No C11E for Rs30 million for sub-lease and paid to the builder Rs11.97 million till Jan 3, 2017.
As many as 80 affected buyers have filed 22 appeals against the order of the IHC single-member bench.
Imran Khan and 30 other appellants through Barrister Farogh Nasim adopted before the court that they were the allottees of various flats/units in the project known as ‘One Constitution Avenue Islamabad’ launched by the BNP.
They termed the verdict of the single-member-bench “bad in law and on facts”.
They said the impugned judgment had referred to documents and facts which were never part of the record, and went beyond the pleadings and arguments made at the time of the hearing.
“The judge has observed that the crucial point is whether a plot earmarked for a five-star hotel can be used for a multi-storey residential purpose. On the other, he stated that even if the builder’s argument that the scope of the project included serviced apartments is accepted, the process would be void in view of breach of principles of transparency.”
According to the appeals, the advertisement was for a five-star hotel. The request for proposal given to the bidders and also the details uploaded on the website clearly showed that the scope of the project included ‘serviced apartments’. Admittedly, the hotel tower is a part of the project, which was delayed due to pending permission and approval from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). It was the authority’s responsibility to expedite the required permission.
It was argued before the judge that the builder was/is committed to constructing a third tower for a hotel and was ready to provide an insurance guarantee for an amount up to Rs1 billion and the authority would be entitled to encash the same if the builder failed in his commitment of constructing the hotel tower.
Quoting audit reports, the appellants stated that as per the audited accounts huge amounts had already been spent on the project. Furthermore, the rescheduling of payment was done as per the lawful procedure; all legal formalities were fulfilled.
The proposal for rescheduling was tabled before the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC), headed by the Ministry of Finance, which opined that the authority was competent to approve the rescheduling request. Accordingly, the rescheduling was approved by the CDA board, it said, claiming that the civic agency approved the rescheduling of the outstanding amount to Centaurus Mall without seeking any directions from the ECC.
“The CDA on July 29, 2016, cancelled the lease for (a) execution of lease and construction of the project by an entity who never participated in the bidding process; (b) transfer of possession to third parties by the builder without obtaining completion certificate/permission from the authority; (c) the plot was not utilised as yet for a hotel, an integral part of the project; and (d) the officials of the authority have facilitated the builder to violate rules and regulations causing a huge loss to the authority.”
The petitioners said the allottees cannot be punished for the failure or negligence of the CDA.
When the building has already completed and third party rights were created and finalised, the CDA cancelled the lease of the land.
The appeal claimed that the BNP had committed to construct a five-star hotel and there was enough room available in terms of the land-building ratio.
Regarding court’s observations that the serviced apartments could not be sold out, the appeal said the term “serviced apartments” had not been defined under any law or regulation. A “serviced apartment” at best is a set of residential apartments which would provide various common facilities, which would be provided in the present structure. There is nothing in the law or rules which debar the flats/units in the building in question to be given on long term sub-leases.
The IHC admitted the appeal for a regular hearing and would take up the case on April 18.
Published in Dawn, April 9th, 2017