ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Thursday questioned the capital administration on ‘misusing’ the Supreme Court’s name in an FIR registered against the owners of land that is being converted into a housing scheme for lawyers.

The administration conducted an operation in the Tama revenue estate earlier this month and faced resistance from affected landowners. They then registered an FIR against 80 villagers, while referring to a so-called SC order.

The operation in Mouza Tama and Mouza Moria was conducted to acquire 8,000 kanals of land for a housing society.

A two-member SC bench halted the operation after the court was told that the Federal Government Employees Housing Foundation (FGEHF) did not have the authority to acquire land as the power to do so is only vested with the Capital Development Authority.

The affected landowners petitioned the IHC through advocate Ilyas Siddiqui to quash the FIR. Mr Siddiqui told the high court that two assistant commissioners and an additional deputy commissioner general as well as local police misused the SC’s name to register a case against the petitioners.

An IHC division bench comprising Chief Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb asked the assistant commissioner’s about the SC directives they cited in the FIR.

The court warned them of action for misusing the SC’s name and citing an order that was never passed.

Justice Aurangzeb remarked that prima facie, the district administration registered the FIR to extend undue favour to someone. Justice Minallah advised the officialsnot to follow illegal orders from their seniors.

Further hearing in the case has been adjourned until Nov 28.

In November 2017, Justice Minallah issued a stay against land acquisition by the Supreme Court Bar Association Housing Society (SCBAHS) on a petition that pleaded that the SCBAHS acquired land contrary to the mandatory provisions of the 1984 Land Acquisition Act and the due procedure. The stay order was later vacated.

The Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) managed to obtain a directive from former prime minister Raja Pervez Ashraf during his last days in office to set up a cooperative housing society. In 2013, the SCBA petitioned the SC for the execution of his order.

In addition to about 3,000 lawyers, more than two dozen Supreme Court and provincial high court judges and some retired judges were beneficiaries of this housing society.

Published in Dawn, November 15th, 2019