KARACHI: The Sindh High Court on Tuesday allowed the Pakistan Air Force and builders to settle all liabilities of the Fazaia Housing Scheme and refund money to all victims of the mega land scam within six months.

The SHC also directed the chairman of the National Accountability Bureau to suspend the investigation into this matter and supervise and facilitate both sides to fulfil their agreements and ensure that all the affected people were paid in full and all other liabilities of the project settled within shortest period of time.

A two-judge bench headed by Justice K.K. Agha also directed jail authorities to release two builders so that they may fulfil their obligations.

The court directed the ministry of interior to place their names on the Exit Control List.

The bench further ruled that if either side failed to comply with their obligations under their respective affidavits for settlement of all the liabilities within six months, the NAB chairman might revive the investigation/inquiry against the builders or any other persons involved in the project for cheating the public.

However, it also said that if either party required more time they might approach the bench with this plea by furnishing reasonable grounds.

Builders get bail but remain on ECL; SHC cites examples of Bahria Town Karachi, Hyatt Regency Islamabad

NAB was not in favour of settlement and it also opposed the release of both the builders, but at the end it stated that the court might pass an appropriate order keeping in view the best interest of justice and those affected.

Builders Tanveer Ahmed and Bilal Tanveer of M/s Maxim Properties were arrested by NAB for allegedly depriving the public of around Rs13 billion through investments in the housing scheme.

The bench in its order observed that Maxim Properties had entered into a joint venture agreement with the directorate of estate project, PAF in order to create the “Fazaia Housing Scheme Karachi” and public were given an opportunity to apply for plots and a large number of people paid substantial amounts of money in respect of such plots.

However, the progress in developing the scheme was extremely slow, which caused great dissatisfaction and concerns among the allottees and complaints were filed with NAB against both sides for cheating public at large and NAB opened an inquiry, it added.

It further said that as per the inquiry, both sides could not complete the project and both sides filed their affidavits in SHC undertaking to comply with in terms of returning the money to allottees and settlement of all other liabilities of the project.

The bench cited the examples of Bahria Town Karachi, Creek Marina Karachi and BNP/Hyatt Regency Islamabad cases while allowing the request of both sides to settle the issue and said decision was made to safeguard the interest of allottees.

It said that the allottees have also supported the affidavits of both sides to settle the matter as they saw this as the only realistic opportunity of getting their money back in a relatively short period of time.

“If we reject the settlement agreement then it was extremely likely that this matter would go to a prolonged trial and likely to take many years to conclude with no guarantee of getting any refund,” the bench observed.

It ruled that both the sides would comply with their obligations regarding refund of money to allottees and other liabilities of the project to the satisfaction of the NAB chairman and then he would close this matter.

The names of the two builders would remain on the ECL until the NAB chairman gave a certificate regarding completion of all their commitments they made before the court, it added.

The bench directed the NAB chairman to file a compliance/progress report on Nov 23.

OPD, emergency services in eight major hospitals

Another SHC bench on Tuesday directed the Sindh Healthcare Commission (SHCC) to ensure that three government-run hospitals and five private hospitals in the metropolis will provide OPD and emergency services to patients.

The two-judge bench headed by Justice Mohammad Ali Mazhar also directed the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC), Civil Hospital Karachi (CHK), Abbasi Shaheed Hospital (ASH), Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH), Liaquat National Hospital (LNH), Ziauddin Hospital, South City Hospital and National Medical Centre (NMC) to continue their OPDs, first aid and emergency services.

It observed that in case any patient approached such hospitals for any emergency treatment, they would first provide treatment and if they want to screen him/her for Covid-19 on the basis of any symptom they can ask such patient for a Covid-19 test.

The bench asked the SHCC’s acting chief executive officer to ensure compliance of its order from hospitals and also file the copy of a press release and letters issued by the SHCC to all hospitals on June 2.

However, the bench was informed that the ASH had closed it OPD and the court issued a notice for the third time to its medical superintendent. The area police station concerned was directed to ensure the presence of ASH official on the next hearing.

When a petition about non-provision of first aid or any other kind of treatment to general patients due to the Covid-19 pandemic came up for hearing, acting CEO of SHCC Dr Farhana Memon appeared and filed a statement in court, which was taken on record.

The representatives and lawyers of NMC, LNH and South City Hospital also filed comments and replies.

The petitioners sought time to go through all replies including the undertaking submitted by AKUH.

The bench said that all representatives of the hospitals concerned had given a clear statement that they would not stop the OPDs, first aid and emergency services in their hospitals.

Dr Memon had also stated that the SHCC was issuing public notices for ensuring protection of healthcare providers as directed by the health minister.

She further informed the bench that the SHCC had inspection teams for routine inspection to check whether all hospitals were performing their duties in accordance with their SOPs and also inspected all the hospitals made respondents in the petition and found that they were performing their duties and functional in accordance with the SOPs issued by the SHCC.

She said ASH had closed the OPD for which the SHCC had already issued a notice to its medical superintendent.

“So far as the screening of the Covid-19 pandemic in private hospitals as well as government hospitals is concerned, the Acting C.E.O. of Sindh Health Care Commission submits that as and when she receives any requisition from any such hospital, she deploys staff for the screening purposes and today her team has visited OMI Hospital for this purpose. She further submits that they have tested paramedical staff of 12 private hospitals and 06 public hospitals and also circulated the list of the hospitals on the website of Sindh Health Care Commission,” the bench wrote in its order.

Dr Seemin Jamali of the JPMC informed the bench that on screening of their paramedical staff/employees some staff had been found Covid-19 positive and they had been quarantined.

South City Hospital CEO Dr Sadia Rasul Virk also informed the bench that they were providing all services including emergency and OPD and had screened all their employees/paramedical staff and some of them were found positive for Covid-19 and quarantined.

Published in Dawn, May 20th, 2020