IHC points to systematic regularisation of illegalities in Islamabad

Published December 27, 2020
Regularisation of illegalities has become a norm in the federal capital and it must end “if rule of law has to be restored”, observed Islamabad High Court (IHC) Chief Justice Athar Minallah in a judgement. — AFP/File
Regularisation of illegalities has become a norm in the federal capital and it must end “if rule of law has to be restored”, observed Islamabad High Court (IHC) Chief Justice Athar Minallah in a judgement. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: Regularisation of illegalities has become a norm in the federal capital and it must end “if rule of law has to be restored”, observed Islamabad High Court (IHC) Chief Justice Athar Minallah in the judgement passed in a case pertaining to Punjab Senior Minister Aleem Khan’s private housing society.

“It has been consistently observed and the same is the case in the petitions in hand that the Authority and public functionaries allow glaring violations of the law by looking the other way and once the damage has been done then resort is made to the policy of regularisation of the illegalities and blatant abuses of the law,” the court order said.

The Capital Development Authority (CDA) recently approved the layout plan of the Banigala house of Prime Minister Imran Khan under new bylaws approved by the federal cabinet last year. The regularisation of luxury apartments of Grand Hyatt is also in final stages and the authority has given an undertaking to the Public Accounts Committee on restoring the lease of the cancelled plot to the BNP Group.

As per the court order in Aleem Khan’s private housing society case, the phenomenon [of regularisation] has become so common that it seems to have assumed the status of a norm.

Declares Park View City’s NOC illegal, asks cabinet to take necessary action

“Regularisation means condoning serious illegalities and abuse of enforced statutes and that too for a negligible fine. This phenomenon without doubt has been the pivotal factor for erosion of the rule of law in the capital of the country. It encourages the unscrupulous and condemns the law abiding citizens. When it is no more a rare exception, it becomes a norm and then it leads to chaos and anarchy and thus the rule of law is eroded.”

The court order said the phenomenon of rewarding illegalities under the garb of ‘regularisation’ must end if the rule of law has to be restored. It noted that the creation of interests of bona fide purchasers is used as a ground for condoning gross illegalities.

Justice Minallah stressed the need for devising “a policy of zero tolerance for violations of the law and strict accountability of those who opt to jeopardise the constitutionally guaranteed rights of the law abiding citizens”.

“The applicants who claim to be bona fide purchasers have no legal right to claim immunity for the gross violations and abuse of law committed by the company and the authority,” he said.

The CDA and the federal government ought to demonstrably show a will to make the case in hand an example of restoring rule of law and making all those accountable who were responsible for abuse and violation of law, the court ruled.

In the judgement, Justice Minallah declared the Park View Society ‘illegal’. The court order made it clear that the case falls under the ambit of the National Accountability Ordinance and “the public functionaries and the beneficiaries to be proceeded against for the offence of corruption and corrupt practices defined under the Accountability Ordinance 1999 commonly, the law which governs the National Accountability Bureau (NAB)”.

The court declared the no-objection certificate (NOC) issued in favour of Park View City and acquisition of land by the society as illegal and referred the matter to the federal cabinet for taking appropriate action against the public functionaries.

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 the 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 civic authority’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, December 27th, 2020

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