MULTAN: The open court being held on the directions of the provincial government at the district headquarters every Friday has failed to redress the grievances of the masses.

During a survey conducted by this correspondent, people complained that there were no proper sitting arrangements for complainants and the open court was being held in the deputy commissioner (DC) office, which was very congested.

Zeeshan Haidar Shamsi, a resident of Sorij Miani, said that 16 acres of his family’s land in Mauza Akbarpur had been acquired for the establishment of a water treatment plant in 2007. He and his brother, Shamsher, owned 10 kanals and three marla each, but they were not compensated against the acquisition by the Water and Sanitation Agency (Wasa) for being minors.

He said that as soon as they got their identity cards made, they started efforts to get their compensation and submitted applications to several officials concerned, but in vain. Even before the open courts were introduced he had knocked all doors to fight for his right, but failed.

“I visited the DC office in 2016 and submitted my first application. But whenever I asked the officials about the status of my complaint I was told that my application was lost and that I should write another one,” he added.

When the open courts were established he resubmitted his application on the first day. Later, when he went to the DC office to inquire about the status of his application, he was asked to submit another one.

“Today, I submitted my third application and it has been marked by DC Mudassar Riaz Malik to the additional deputy commissioner (revenue). This is the third officer to whom my application has been marked,” he claimed.

He said now he would visit the office of the concerned officer on Monday (tomorrow).

“The Wasa authorities are attending every meeting of the open court, but the DC marks my application to his subordinate revenue officer instead of issuing directions to them,” he added.

Shamsi said he even asked the DC to assign his issue to Wasa authorities, but was told off by the DC. One of the Wasa officials was demanding Rs800,000 from him as he wanted to construct a mosque in his area, he alleged.

Samina Kausar, a resident of Basti Jampur, said she had purchased a five-marla plot in 2015, but a group of land grabbers occupied it and constructed a structure there. The grabbers were threatening her and she had submitted an application to the DC in this regard as well. The local revenue officer, in his report, had declared her the owner of the land, but another revenue official was trying to convince her to sell the plot at a cheap price to the grabbers.

She claimed that instead of solving her problem, the DC told her that even though her issue was court related he would help her, yet they would lose her application repeatedly.

Malik Imtiaz Hussain, a resident of Chah Jandiwala, said he had submitted an application for a correction in government records regarding a mourning procession in the month of Safar every year, but no steps were taken to address his complaint.

He added that there were no proper arrangements for complainants who were forced to stand or sit on the ground and wait for hours for their turn. The DC office was not spacious enough to hold an open court while majority of the chairs were occupied by the officers themselves. He said there were no arrangements for drinking water as well.

Hussain claimed that the number of complainants was decreasing by the day as their complaints were not being addressed by the open court.

The district administration spokesman, Wasim Yousaf, claimed that the open court was being held within the DC office on the directions of the provincial government. “That’s where it is held in every district,” he added.

Over 100 applications were entertained by the DC on Friday who summoned the authorities concerned in his office to redress the grievances of the people.

“We are receiving a large number of complaints across the province. On some applications, directions are issued on the spot, while the remaining are sent to the departments concerned,” he added.

Mr Yousaf claimed that not all complaints fulfilled merit, which was why people were complaining that their issues were not being resolved. He also said that the DC was not only holding the open court every Friday, but his office was also open all week for the public.

Published in Dawn, February 12th, 2019