ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Thursday expressed surprise as to why an authorised dealer of the Bahria Town (Pvt) Ltd had shown in its record the sale of those lands which the real estate company did not possess or had surrendered to the Malir Development Authority (MDA).
The fact came to the fore when a three-judge bench headed by Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed took up the reply furnished by the Prism Marketing which showed the sale of plots in certain precincts or areas which do not fall in the category of those owned by the developer tycoon Malik Riaz or which have been given up by him.
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Earlier the court had ordered the Prism Marketing, Cosmos and Tri-Star, the dealers authorised to sell plots on behalf of the Bahria Town, to furnish data from day one when the Malir project in Karachi was launched about the total number of plots, bookings made and the amounts transacted etc.
The bench had taken up implementation of its May 4, 2018 judgement which held that the land grant to the MDA by the Sindh government, its exchange with the land of the Bahria Town and anything done under the provisions of the Colonisation of Government Land Act-1912 by the provincial government was illegal.
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The land was granted for launching an incremental housing scheme but instead of doing so, the MDA exchanged it with Bahria Town which launched a scheme of its own, the judgement had held.
Currently the Bahria Town is in the possession of 16,896 acres of land in Malir district whereas it has surrendered 7,675 acres to the MDA.
When the court resumed hearing on Thursday, Justice Faisal Arab, a member of the bench, asked senior counsel Sardar Mohammad Aslam, representing the three dealers, to explain why the record showed that certain precincts or the areas where plots had been sold to the people fell in the area which the Bahria Town had surrendered to the MDA.
“Either Sardar Aslam is wrong or the Bahria Town,” Justice Saeed said and addressing Barrister Ali Zafar, who represents the Bahria Town, observed that it seemed that his client was not fair with the court and this also showed mala fide intentions on part of the developer.
If the dealer had committed wrongdoing then he had made himself liable to be punished for committing an offence within the meaning of the National Accountability Ordinance, warranting filing of a corruption reference against him, Justice Saeed said.
However, Mr Zafar said that not a single inch of land, which had been given up, had been allotted to any person and assured the court that in case of some mistake, the person who had been allotted the plot would be duly compensated.
Justice Arab reminded the lawyer that the satellite imagery provided to the court had also shown development of roads and other infrastructure in those areas which were not in the possession of the developer, adding that the precincts that had been shown to have been sold had definitely been allotted by the Bahria Town.
When the counsel said that he would furnish the maps and other relevant documents to rebut the allegations, Justice Saeed observed that the real issue was not that the party would submit the record but that of credibility.
“My client must have made some mistake. Let me re-verify the record and tally it with the one presented by the dealer,” Mr Zafar said, emphasising again that the Bahria Town records showed that these precincts did not fall in the area which had been given up by the developer.
“Why should we bother hearing you when this means defrauding the public,” Justice Saeed quipped.
The court even asked the lawyer to climb the podium where judges sat so that he could be shown the map and explained what the court actually meant by stating that plots had been sold from the lands which the Bahria Town did not own.
“Let’s call it a day,” Justice Saeed said, telling the lawyer that he could not build something on quicksand, but needed a solid foundation for building some infrastructure.
Justice Saeed also told Mr Zafar that since he had lost confidence of the court, he had to persuade the bench to allow him to clarify his position, adding that he felt that the court had wasted its time.
“You will also have to satisfy the court that the map to be produced is the original and never amended,” Justice Muneeb Akhtar told the lawyer.
However, the counsel argued that he felt handicapped since he did not have the map.
Justice Saeed asked Mr Zafar to file the map and other relevant documents by Saturday, and not even on Monday, to clarify the developer’s position, adding the court was very unhappy with them. The case will be taken up again on March 6.
Published in Dawn, March 1st, 2019