Government eyes funds being deposited by Bahria Town

Published August 23, 2019
On March 21, SC accepted developer’s Rs460bn offer for settlement of cases pertaining to its Super Highway project. — Dawn/File
On March 21, SC accepted developer’s Rs460bn offer for settlement of cases pertaining to its Super Highway project. — Dawn/File

ISLAMABAD: The federal government is eyeing the funds being deposited by the Bahria Town Limited in the Supreme Court for settlement of cases pertaining to its Karachi Super Highway project in lieu of payment of Rs460 billion.

“It is prayed that the entire money deposited by the Bahria Town (Pvt) Ltd and held by the Supreme Court may be ordered to be deposited in the ‘public account of the federal government’,” said a two-page application submitted to the apex court by the Attorney General Office on Thursday.

On March 21, a three-judge SC bench headed by Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed had accepted the Rs460bn offer by the Bahria Town to implement the court’s May 4, 2018 judgement which held that the grant of land to the Malir Development Authority (MDA) by the Sindh government, its exchange with the private land of the developer and anything done under the provisions of the Colonisation of Government Land Act, 1912 by the provincial government were illegal and of no legal existence.

The land was granted for launching an incremental housing scheme, but the MDA exchanged it with the land of Bahria Town to launch a scheme of its own, the verdict had regretted.

On March 21, apex court accepted developer’s Rs460bn offer for settlement of cases pertaining to its Super Highway project

The settlement pertains to the developer’s super highway project spreading over 16,896 acres and has nothing to do with 5,472 kanals of land at Takht Pari Rakh, Rawalpindi, and 4,542 kanals at Sulkhatar and Manga Land, Murree.

The acceptance of the offer by the apex court had served to restrain the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) from filing references against the directors and officials of Bahria Town. However, in case of default in payment of the settlement amount during the period which was reduced to seven years from eight, NAB will be free to file corruption references against the developer, but after prior permission of the court.

The application filed by Attorney General Anwar Mansoor stated that the apex court had granted a period of seven years — Sept 1, 2019 to Aug 31, 2026 — for payment of the entire settlement amount to the Supreme Court. It said the Bahria Town had already furnished Rs25bn, adding that after the first instalment of Rs2.5bn, the balance payment was required to be made in 36 equal monthly instalments with four per cent mark-up charged annually with effect from Sept 1, 2023.

“On account of the fact that money has been deposited or is liable to be deposited in the Supreme Court of Pakistan, the said amount is liable to be credited to the public account of the federation, notwithstanding what purposes the money is obtained or deposited for,” the application said, explaining that Article 78 of the Constitution referred to in generic terms “all other money”, which encompassed the deposit being made by the Bahria Town.

As per the provision of Article 78(2)(b) of the Constitution, any money received by or deposited in the Supreme Court is liable to be credited to the “public account of the federation,” the application explained.

Article 78 (1) states that all the revenues received by the federal government, all loans raised by that government and all moneys received by it in repayment of any loan, shall form part of a consolidated fund, to be known as the federal Consolidated Fund. Article 78(2) of the Constitution says that all other moneys received by or on behalf of the federal government or (b) received by or deposited with the Supreme Court or any other court established under the authority of the federation shall go to the federal account.

Published in Dawn, August 23rd, 2019

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