The Supreme Court on Friday while hearing a case on the sale of Pakistan Railways' land at throwaway prices ordered that Railways-owned land within the jurisdiction of the Centre and provinces cannot be sold or leased out for more than five years.
Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar, who was heading the three-judge bench hearing the case, observed that Railways land is owned by the federal government, and while the provinces may use it, they cannot sell it as its sale is banned.
"The Railways department can give the land on lease, but it can't sell it," Justice Nisar explained. "But that doesn't mean that such land should be leased for 99 years."
Minister for Railways Sheikh Rashid, who was present in court today, assured the bench that Pakistan Railways would not sell "even one marla of land".
"Some land has been leased out for three to five years, and we receive Rs3 billion annual income through leasing Railways land," he informed the court. "If you terminate the leases, then Railways will suffer financial losses."
The court subsequently stopped Pakistan Railways from selling its land within the jurisdiction of the Centre or provinces, and ruled that land in Railways use cannot be sold.
The court ordered that land in the jurisdiction of the Centre or provinces could not be leased out for more than five years, and that only land which is not needed for Railways operations can be leased out.
Pakistan Railways will not have permission to build any housing society, the court ruled, also ordering the department to ensure it does not allow any illegal occupation of the land in its use.
The Supreme Court said that the Royal Palm Golf and Country Club case would be separated from this issue and heard independently, adding that its interim order in the Royal Palm case would remain in place and that audit firm Ferguson had been given administrative control of the club for the time being.
The case regarding the use of Railways land was subsequently disposed off.