Supreme Court sets aside Bahria Town's review petition against May 4 verdict

Published December 4, 2018
Supreme Court also asks PA Speaker Pervaiz Elahi to explain demarcation of land during his time as Punjab CM. — File
Supreme Court also asks PA Speaker Pervaiz Elahi to explain demarcation of land during his time as Punjab CM. — File

The Supreme Court on Tuesday set aside Bahria Town's review petition against the court's May 4 verdict, in which it had declared that the total area of land acquired by the real estate company in Takht Pari, Rawalpindi was 2,210 acres and not 1,741 acres as claimed.

After Bahria Town's counsel Aitzaz Ahsan presented his arguments, the court dismissed the petition, noting that the matter of action against those responsible for encroachments will be dealt with by an implementation bench of the court.

Earlier, Speaker Punjab Assembly Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi asked the Supreme Court for more time to submit his reply and prepare his defence in the case. However, the court declared that the implementation bench will be hearing the case against Elahi.

The apex court had summoned Elahi, the former Punjab chief minister, to explain under which authority he had ordered demarcation of forest land in Takht Pari that eventually benefited his family.

Chief Justice Saqib Nisar, while heading a five-member bench, told Elahi: "Malik Riaz says he has received 1,741 acres of property. [It seems that] you have allotted more property and showed less, [whereas] Malik Riaz exchanged some property with your family members.

"The property was allotted to the wife of Chaudhry Shujaat, Chaudhry Salik and a servant, Chaudhry Munir. You will have to give an explanation over the demarcation."

The provincial assembly speaker claimed that he came to know about the case "yesterday evening" and that he has no record of the "13-year-old allotment".

"I must respond but I don't have facts," Elahi said.

At this point, the chief justice observed that the court has the option to investigate the matter either through the National Accountability Bureau, the Federal Investigation Agency or a joint investigation team.

"You had no right of demarcation," the chief justice reminded Elahi. "The Punjab government has also said that powers were abused."

Elahi told the court that he had been the chief minister for five years, after which his political opponents had enjoyed the same powers for 10 years. "They have scanned each and every one of my files but could not find a case against me," he said.

"Then, we will get the matter investigated as it would be better for you," said Justice Nisar. "A court order has already been issued against you and it must be implemented."

Justice Asif Saeed Khosa remarked that the then chief minister had approved the demarcation, following which his family members were benefited. “We are not levelling allegations here, as the court has already passed its verdict which was not challenged,” Justice Khosa said.

"Present some documents stating the area was 1,741 acres and not 2,210," the chief justice said. The counsel for Bahria Town, Aitzaz Ahsan, told the court that there is a report of a deputy commissioner to this effect.

Justice Khosa rectified Ahsan that the report was prepared by an urban inspector. "He might have been bribed with a plot," he added.

The judge said that satellite images show how houses were built on the land of forests. He added that Bahria Town has confessed to cutting 10,000 trees.

In one of the previous hearings, the chief justice had remarked: "Entire nomenclature of land was changed only to grab it. The SC bench had also ordered the Punjab revenue department to provide records regarding the actual area and demarcation of certain lands with a caution that the evidence should not be tampered with.

The Supreme Court in its May 4 judgement had held that the exchange of land purportedly encroached upon by Messrs Bahria Town (Pvt) Ltd and the Punjab forest department as well as the attestation of mutations were based on an erroneous assumption about the area.

The counsel for Bahria Town had argued that the demarcation exercise was done in accordance with the West Pakistan Land Revenue Act of 1956. He added that measurement of the River Korang was also being done by the authorities under the same law.

Authored by Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, the May 4 judgement had ordered the forest department, revenue department and the Survey of Pakistan to conduct a fresh demarcation after giving notices to the forest department and Bahria Town.

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