Sindh moves SC for funds deposited by Bahria Town

Updated December 15, 2019

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Sindh government has laind claim to deposits by Bahria Town Karachi (pictured). — Dawn/File
Sindh government has laind claim to deposits by Bahria Town Karachi (pictured). — Dawn/File

ISLAMABAD: A dispute has emerged between the federal and Sindh governments, with both of them laying claim to the funds being deposited in the Supreme Court by Bahria Town Karachi (BTK) against a Rs460 billion settlement in a case about its Superhighway project.

On Saturday, the Sindh government through its chief secretary submitted an application to the apex court, which pleaded that the money in the account established by the court, in which the BTK has already submitted a down payment, be transferred to Account No 1 of the provincial government.

On Aug 22, the federal government had requested the apex court that the entire money deposited by BTK and held by the court be deposited in its public accounts.

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

Its application says ‘any unnecessary delay’ in a hearing on the matter will cause irreparable financial loss to the public as well as the applicant

The land was granted for launching an incremental housing scheme, but instead of launching the scheme the MDA exchanged it with Bahria Town for launching of a scheme by the latter, the judgement had regretted.

The settlement concerns only with the BTK’s Superhighway project that is spread over 16,896 acres and is independent of other projects of Bahria Town.

In its fresh application, the Sindh government pleaded that its petition be treated as urgent by the court and be fixed for hearing in the week commencing on Dec 16, or any other convenient date.

Any unnecessary delay in the hearing will cause serious injury and irreparable financial loss to the general public as well as the applicant, the application argued.

Similarly, all future payments to be made by the BTK should be transferred to the government of Sindh, including the shortfall in the down payment, the application said.

It regretted that the Sindh government had received from the federal government Rs493bn by June 30 against the budgetary estimates of Rs605.6bn, reflecting a shortfall of Rs112bn.

The provincial government was also facing a shortfall of Rs74.99bn against the revised estimates of Rs508bn against the Federal Revenue Assignment from the Divisible Pool.

The application clarified that the Sindh government had only received Rs9.9bn from the federal government against the allocated amount of Rs14.26bn under the Public Sector Development Programme for 2018-19. This shortfall in the provincial revenue had jeopardised the development projects that had already been initiated as well as those which were at various stages of completion, the application said.

The federal government through Attorney General Anwar Mansoor Khan had contended before the apex court that the said amount was liable to be credited to the public accounts of the federation, notwithstanding what purposes the money was obtained or deposited for.

The federal government had contended that Article 78 of the Constitution referred in generic terms to “all other money”, which encompasses the deposits being made by the Bahria Town.

As per the provisions 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”, its application had argued.

Article 78(1) says that all the revenues received by the federal government, all loans raised by that government and all money received by it in repayment of any loan, shall form part of a consolidated fund, to be known as the Federal Consolidated Fund.

Published in Dawn, December 15th, 2019