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SC rejects Bahria Town's offer to deposit Rs250 billion to avoid NAB reference

Updated January 15, 2019

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SC orders Bahria Town to submit separate and reasonable offers in each three cases in Islamabad, Karachi and Murree.— File
SC orders Bahria Town to submit separate and reasonable offers in each three cases in Islamabad, Karachi and Murree.— File

The Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected Bahria Town's offer to deposit Rs250 billion to avoid legal proceedings for illegally acquiring land for its projects in Karachi, Islamabad and Murree.

An implementation bench of the apex court was hearing a case pertaining to the implementation on a May 4, SC verdict against Bahria Town. Under the order, the court had barred M/s Bahria Town Karachi from selling any plot or constructed apartment in the housing scheme on the outskirts of the port city, declaring the grant of land to the Malir Develop­ment Authority and its exchange with the land of the private land developers illegal and void ab initio.

At the outset of today's hearing, a counsel on behalf of Bahria Town offered to submit Rs200 billion to waive off charges against the real estate developer.

Justice Azmat Saeed, who was heading the three-member bench, reminded the counsel that a fine of Rs285 billion had been imposed on Bahria Town in 2004. "If the fine money is increased by 40 per cent, it will amount to Rs300bn."

Take a look: Bahria Town Karachi: Greed unlimited

Justice Saeed noted that three separate verdicts had been passed against Bahria Town, so it should make "separate and reasonable" offers for its projects in Karachi, Islamabad and Murree.

At this, Bahira Town's counsel increased the offer to Rs250bn.

"This is not a suitable way to deal with [the apex court]," Justice Saeed said, reprimanding the lawyer. "We may ask the National Accountability Bureau to file a reference."

The counsel sought one week's time to file a reply. Justice Saeed granted the plea and directed Bahria Town to submit written offers in all the three cases.

"Our mistake was not that big," the counsel argued.

"Mistake is supposed to be of one or two kanals, not of thousands of acres," the judge replied.

The implementation bench was formed after the court had dropped the review petitions filed against its May 4 judgement barring Bahria Town Karachi from selling any plots or constructed apartments.

In its May 4 judgement, the court had declared the grant of land to the Malir Development Authority (MDA) and its exchange with the land of Bahria Town illegal and void. It had also directed NAB to continue its probe into the matters of the developer.

During the last hearing in the case, the bench had ordered the bureau to file separate references on a series of matters stemming from the Bahria Town Karachi project, including the arrears of three MDA projects.

During an earlier hearing, the court had reprimanded NAB, Pakistan Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (Suparco) and the administration of Bahria Town, over what it termed their "non-cooperation" in implementing a ruling of the apex court.

Justice Saeed had warned the respondents that the judges were "about to lose their temperament" and directed NAB to ensure progress "through its actions".