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RAWALPINDI: Property tycoon Malik Riaz may not use the brand name ‘Bahria Town’ for his real estate projects as the sessions court of Rawalpindi has rejected his appeal seeking the nomenclature.

In March 2015, handing down a verdict in a case between the naval subsidiary Bahria Foundation and Mr Riaz, a civil judge accepted the former’s petition – originally filed in 2002 – to restrain the latter from using the name ‘Bahria’ for his housing society.

Bahria Town challenged the verdict in the additional district and sessions court and the case was pending adjudication.

Sessions court rejects Malik Riaz’s appeal against verdict of civil court handed down in 2015

The Supreme Court earlier this month directed the sessions court to conclude the proceeding in two weeks.

Additional District and Sessions Judge Hakim Khan Bakkhar on Saturday rejected Bahria Town’s appeal and upheld the verdict of the civil judge.

When contacted, a senior official of Bahria Town, retired Col Khalil, said Malik Riaz, not Bahria Town, had become a brand name. He said the housing society would explore the legal course.

According to the details of the case, Hussain Global – a property firm linked to Mr Riaz – signed an agreement with the Bahria Foundation in 1996 to set up Bahria Town.

The foundation was established in January 1982 as a charitable trust under the Endowment Act 1890. The Bahria Foundation Committee of Administration, headed by the chief of the naval staff, consists of eight members, including the foundation’s managing director.

Under the agreement that Mr Riaz signed with the foundation, the naval subsidiary was offered a 10pc share for the use of the name ‘Bahria’ for the private housing scheme. The remaining amount was divided among Hussain Global, Mr Riaz and his family members.

In the year 2000, the foundation asked Mr Riaz not to use the name ‘Bahria’ for his housing society. On Feb 24 the same year, the property mogul signed an agreement with the Bahria Foundation to the same effect.

Agreeing not to use the name permanently, Mr Riaz’s people did request that they may be allowed to retain the name for another 18 months.

However, in 2002, Malik Riaz obtained a stay order from a local court, alleging that Bahria Foundation had forced him to sign the agreement.

Since then, the tycoon has expanded his housing project manifold and sold a large number of housing and commercial units in Rawalpindi, Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi.

ADSJ Bakkhar conducted day-to-day proceeding in the matter.

Barrister Gohar Ali Khan and Sheikh Ilyas represented the housing society.

According to the counsel, the official of Bahria Town agreed to relinquish the brand name to the foundation under coercion.

However, Bahria Foundation’s counsel Sheikh Khizer Rashid argued that the foundation never pressured Mr Riaz who agreed not to use the name of his own free will.

The property tycoon had signed the deal in the presence of the company’s registrar, he said, adding Mr Riaz did not appear in court to prove the allegation that he was forced to sign the 2002 agreement.

He said using the nomenclature of Bahria, associated with Pakistan Navy, was bringing disrepute for the armed forces. Therefore, the private housing society should not be allowed to use the title.

Published in Dawn, August 19th, 2018