Privatisation Commission had no authority to sell PR land: SC

Updated February 22, 2020

Email

The chief justice questioned as to how the land estimated to be valued at Rs53 trillion had been sold at merely Rs530 million. — Photo courtesy Supreme Court website/File
The chief justice questioned as to how the land estimated to be valued at Rs53 trillion had been sold at merely Rs530 million. — Photo courtesy Supreme Court website/File

KARACHI: The Supreme Court on Friday directed the railways secretary to file a reply to an application regarding the abandoned Hyatt Regency Hotel structure built on a piece of Pakistan Railway’s land.

A three-member bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed, also asked the secretary to file the reply with the approval of the railways minister.

The bench also comprising Justice Faisal Arab and Justice Sajjad Ali Shah passed these directives while hearing a matter regarding reported lease of prime land belonging to the PR at the SC’s Karachi registry.

The chief justice questioned as to how the land estimated to be valued at Rs53 trillion had been sold at merely Rs530 million.

He further observed that the Privatisation Commission had no authority to sell the land belonging to the PR under the law since it was a public property.

The CJP observed that Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed during a recent hearing had informed the apex court that the entire railways department could be revamped if one plot belonging to it was sold at market value.

The apex court asks railways secretary to file reply on Hyatt Regency hotel structure

At a previous hearing, the court had summoned the attorney general of Pakistan along with record of a plot of land on which the abandoned Hyatt Regency Hotel structure was built.

During the hearing, the bench was informed that the abandoned building was in the possession of Aqeel Karim Dhedhi since the land was leased out in 2004 to him for 99 years by the PR to establish the National Commodity Exchange.

The counsel for Mr Dhedhi had submitted that the Privatisation Commission had leased the land after completing all formalities.

However, a PR official had contended that as per an earlier directive of the apex court, the railways land could not be leased for more than five years.

The advocate general of Sindh had also submitted that the land was meant only for railway purposes.

Notice to KMC, KDA, KPT issued

The court issued notices to the advocate general Sindh, the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation, the Karachi Development Authority and the Karachi Port Trust in a case pertaining to the construction of a commercial building on an amenity plot and part of the Shaheed Benazir Park in Boat Basin.

A lawyer appeared on behalf of builder Akhlaq Memon and submitted that the latter had proceeded to Canada.

The bench also called files of the lawsuits pending before the Sindh High Court in respect of the property in question.

Published in Dawn, February 22nd, 2020