ISLAMABAD: Islamabad High Court (IHC) Chief Justice Athar Minallah on Monday asked how a senior minister in the Punjab government used state land to connect his housing society to a main road.

Justice Minallah was hearing a petition seeking the registration of an FIR against PTI senior minister Aleem Khan for land encroachment.

According to a report submitted in court by the Capital Development Authority (CDA), Mr Khan encroached on state land to connect his Park View Housing Society to Kuri Road.

The housing developer has claimed that they constructed the land on road allocated for this purpose, but the CDA’s report said that the land was not meant for a road and pointed the finger at two bureaucrats who have recently served as CDA chairman.

The report stated that the developer “was not in ownership of the gap between CDA land and project land.”

The authority admitted to its mistake in allowing Mr Khan to build the road in May 2018. The report added: “This decision of the CDA board of May 09, 2018, allowed the developer to fulfil the requirements of the conditions of no objection certificate (NOC).”

There was no access road between Mr Khan’s and the main road, which is required for an NOC. However, the CDA allowed the road to the society to be built, allowing them to qualify for the certificate.

Justice Minallah asked if Mr Khan was so powerful that he used state land for his private housing society, to which the CDA’s counsel replied that the housing society was established on private land, but the road was constructed on land that belonged to the CDA.

“Why shouldn’t we refer this matter to the federal cabinet or form a commission to probe the matter,” Justice Minallah asked.

He sought a detailed report from the CDA in this matter and adjourned the hearing until Aug 13.

During an earlier hearing in this matter in November 2019, the IHC has asked the CDA to justify permission granted to the private housing society to utilise the acquired land and “satisfy this court that it is not a case which ought to be referred to [National Accountability Bureau] to be dealt with under National Accountability Ordinance 1999.”

Park View City was being developed in an inaccessible area and as per the CDA’s record the permission to use the land was given to the society in June 2018 when Usman Akhtar Bajwa, additional secretary at the Prime Minister’s Office, was CDA chairman.

Later, during the tenure of Afzal Lateef - the incumbent secretary industries - as the CDA chairman, permission to use the access road was further cemented by the mutation of some areas in favour of the CDA that connected the project to the CDA’s land.

The matter was pursued by the CDA’s planning wing, headed by then member planning Asad Mehbood Kayani, who later retired.

Published in Dawn, August 4th, 2020