High court stays approval of new housing schemes in Peshawar

Published August 21, 2020
PHC seeks govt reply to petition against LG law amendments for private land developers. — Abdul Majeed Goraya/File
PHC seeks govt reply to petition against LG law amendments for private land developers. — Abdul Majeed Goraya/File

PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court has issued a stay order temporarily stopping the Peshawar Development Authority from granting no objection certificates to the private land developers for housing schemes.

A bench consisting of Chief Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth and Justice Ikramullah Khan also issued notices to the attorney general for Pakistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa advocate general on a petition against amendments to the KP Local Government Act, 2013, which allowed private builders to register plot applicants even prior to getting NOC from the PDA and charge membership fee from them.

The bench adjourned next hearing until Sept 8 asking the PDA director general not to receive any application for NOC for housing projects until then.

Sirajul Haq Yousafzai and 12 other petitioners have challenged different provisions of the KP Local Government (Second Amendment) Act, 2020, through which changes were made to the KP Local Government Act, 2013, by the provincial government in July.

The petitioners claim that the amendments to the law were person-specific and were meant to benefit Bahria Town (Pvt) Limited and therefore, they should be declared unconstitutional.

Seeks govt reply to petition against LG law amendments for private land developers

The respondents in the petition are the Bahria Town (Pvt) Limited through its chief executive, Malik Riaz, KP government through its chief secretary, secretaries of local government and law departments, PDA director general, KP advocate general, and secretary of the provincial assembly.

Mohammad Ayaz Khan, lawyer for the petitioners, contended that the provincial assembly passed the KP Local Government (Second Amendment) Bill, which introduced by the government, on July 7, while the governor gave assent to it on July 13.

He pointed out that several controversial amendments were being made to the KPLGA (Local Government Act) through the controversial Act and that a new section 23-A was incorporated in the parent law providing several benefits to private builders, especially Bahria Town.

The lawyer said the section in question empowered the chairman of a tehsil council to receive application from a private promoter or developer for approval of any private housing scheme.

He said even prior to applying for NOC to launch a housing scheme, a private developer could apply for permission to undertake a local consumer survey within territorial limit of any tehsil.

The lawyer said under sub-section 12 of Section 23-A of the Act, the private promoter or developer could also receive any amount on account of membership or registration fee from consumers to learn about their seriousness about the project.

He said in case of a survey, it was not mandatory for the land developer to possess land in particular area for a private housing scheme and therefore, that provision could result in the deceiving of people in the name of market survey.

The lawyer wondered how the registration fee could be received by developers from people without getting NOC for housing schemes.

He said the law declared that permission to undertake a market survey should only be granted to private promoter or developer, who had shown experience of successfully establishing private housing schemes in any part of the country.

The lawyer said those law amendments were only meant to benefit Bahria Town (Pvt) Limited as without having possession of any land, it could receive registration fee from people.

Published in Dawn, August 21st, 2020

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