PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court on Wednesday expressed displeasure with the failure of Peshawar’s deputy commissioner to appear before it over in a land compensation case despite the issuance of repeated notices and issued bailable warrants for his arrest.

The warrants were issued by a bench consisting of Justice Mussarat Hilali and Justice Sahibzada Asadullah during a petition jointly filed by three brothers from Tehkal Payan area against the imposition of Section 4 of the Land Acquisition Act for acquiring their land to put up a police watchtower.

The petitioners, including Islam Gul, Sadagar and Irfan, claimed that they’d not been paid compensation even after the taking over of their land.

The bench asked Peshawar’s deputy commissioner to show up on the next hearing fixed for Sept 12.

Three brothers had moved PHC after denial of land compensation

At the start of the hearing, the court asked an additional advocate general about the deputy commissioner.

The ADG replied that the DC was busy in an official meeting, so he couldn’t turn up.

The bench took exception to the DC’s absence observing that the DC hadn’t attended the hearing disregarding the court’s repeated notices.

It wondered how the DC could take the court’s orders so lightly.

For the first time, the court had asked the DC to appear before it on June 19. However, he failed to turn up prompting the court to ask him to attend the July 16 hearing but he disregarded those orders, too.

The court called him on July 30 but he remained absent again. A bench asked him to show up before it on the next hearing along with relevant records and warned if he didn’t comply with the orders, legal proceedings would be initiated against him.

Saleem Shah Hoti, lawyer for the petitioners, said his clients owned 60 marlas land in Tehkal Payan.

He said the respondents, including police, had occupied that land in 2017 before beginning to dig it up.

The lawyer said the respondents didn’t provide any information to petitioners about the land, so they filed a civil suit in a local court.

He added that the CCPO produced a notification under sections 4, 6 and 9 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, saying Section 4 was invoked for acquiring the said land on Sept 27, 2017.

The counsel said the petitioners later withdrew the case and filed a petition in the high court.

He said the DC in capacity as land acquisition collector had issued the notification under Section 4 of the Land Acquisition Act for the public purpose of construction of a watchtower in Pehlawan Pul, Tehkal Payan, while the land of petitioners was illegally and forcibly occupied.

The lawyer said the LAC was bound to complete the process of the land acquisition within six months from the date of notification under Section 4 of the Land Acquisition Act but he failed to do so.

He requested the court to ask the respondents to make an award in accordance with the law along with compensation and damages.

Published in Dawn, August 22nd, 2019