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SC orders Packages Limited to pay Rs500m for lease of govt land

January 05, 2019

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Court decides the land will no longer be leased and will instead be auctioned with first priority given to the company. —Photo courtesy Packages Ltd's Facebook account
Court decides the land will no longer be leased and will instead be auctioned with first priority given to the company. —Photo courtesy Packages Ltd's Facebook account

The Supreme Court on Saturday directed Packages Limited to pay Rs500 million in lease payments for its factory built on government land following the expiry of the lease agreement in 2015.

A two-member bench headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar heard the matter at the Lahore registry.

The court decided that the land will no longer be leased out to anyone and will instead be auctioned with first priority given to Packages Limited for its purchase.

The chief justice expressed amazement at the fact that since the lease's expiration nothing was done with "the [revenue] people just sitting around".

"Is this the country's law? Those responsible for the renewal of the lease did nothing," he remarked, adding that "these poor people [Packages Limited] are honest to have come forward themselves to make the payment".

The chief justice then asked the Lahore Deputy Commissioner (DC) Saliha Saeed to explain the matter from the beginning.

DC Saeed said that from 1955 to 1985 Packages Limited was given government land on lease for its factory. In 1989, the lease was renewed for a further 30 years.

Then, on July 6, 2015, Packages Limited applied to the Board of Revenue (BoR) for another extension, a matter which was still pending.

The deputy commissioner said that in 2017 the BoR was also provided with all relevant documentation pertaining to the land along with other details.

Justice Nisar asked a senior member of the BoR present in the court to explain what the delay was. "Please explain clearly why this matter is still pending."

The chief justice then inquired, "Where is [the director general] DG NAB? If we can capture Mansha Khokhar, no one can escape the law, no matter how respectable."

The BoR official (Member Colonies) admitted that a lot of applications were pending review. He said that a new policy had been formulated under which government land will no longer be leased.

He said that previously there was no policy formulation for the leasing of government land and the matter had been waiting for a decision by a committee comprising the provincial ministers of law, revenue, and finance.

"What was the mandate of this committee? Not a single rupee was paid since 2015," the chief justice said while addressing the BoR official. "Who were the provincial ministers at that time?"

The BoR official responded by saying, "Rana Sanaullah and Ayesha Ghaus Pasha were the provincial ministers for law and finance." He also added that since the new policy's formulation, an application had been submitted to the chief minister to call a cabinet meeting at the earliest and review the matter.

The court announced the dissolution of the lease and ordered the company to pay a sum of Rs500 million as due payment.