ISLAMABAD: A special Joint Investigation Team (JIT), appointed by the Supreme Court to probe alleged illegal allotment in 1986 of Waqf property attached with the shrine of Baba Farid-ud-Din Masud Ganj Shakar in Pakpattan, on Tuesday recommended initiation of criminal proceedings against “delinquents”, including then chief minister of Punjab Nawaz Sharif.

After receiving the JIT report, a three-judge SC bench headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar asked Mr Sharif and the Punjab government to furnish replies on the report within a fortnight.

The report alleged that Nawaz Sharif as Punjab chief minister in 1986 had ordered withdrawal of a notification of Dec 17, 1969 and allotment of huge land of the Auqaf department around Pakpattan to Dewan Ghulam Qutab-ud-Din, the Sajjada Nasheen of the shrine, in violation of an order of the Lahore High Court.

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At the last hearing on Dec 4, 2018, former prime minister Sharif had appeared before the Supreme Court to answer the allegations and clear his position about the allotment of 14,394 kanals of Waqf property. He had left it to the apex court to assign an inquiry into the allegations to any department.

Originally, the land measuring 8,273 acres (66,184 kanals) was attached with the shrine of Ganj Shakar in Pakpattan. The then first class judge of Montgomery in his decision of Dec 2, 1938 had declared the land as Waqf property, but that order was never implemented as per the revenue record.

Headed by Hussain Asghar, the JIT said that the then chief minister, in the presence of the orders by the court of the district and sessions judge of Sahiwal and the LHC, had no authority to issue the directives in contradictions with these orders. Hence, it was an instance of misuse and abuse of powers and thus the then chief minister was fully responsible for this lapse, it added.

The JIT also recommended initiating criminal cases against former secretary to the CM Syed Javed Iqbal Bukhari, legal heirs of Qutab-ud-Din, the assistant administrator of Auqaf posted in Pakpattan between Dec 17, 1969 and Aug 28, 1986 and other officials concerned, including those of the Auqaf department.

The officials against whom criminal cases were recommended include the then Patwaris, Qanungos and circle revenue officers of the area where these irregularities and illegalities had been committed as the officials were also held responsible for these illegalities.

The report alleged that Qutab-ud-Din, in the garb of an Aug 28, 1986 notification issued in compliance with the then CM’s directives, had himself sold out parts of the land and later after his death his heirs sold out 12,091 kanals of the land unlawfully through mutations.

It said that Qutab-ud-Din had been the owner of land in seven villages. He died in 1987 and the inheritance mutation was entered in favour of his legal heirs who continued selling the land till 2015. These mutations should be reviewed and the land retrieved in favour of the Auqaf department, the JIT recommended.

It said that though the secretary and chief administrator of Auqaf had appointed an assistant manager of Waqf property in Pakpattan to manage and maintain the property in accordance with the law, the latter did not take any action in this regard. Hence, the assistant manager and his seniors were also responsible for this lapse as no action was taken by any officer of the Auqaf department from Dec 17, 1969 to Aug 28, 1986.

Published in Dawn, January 16th, 2019