DHA claim over evacuee land riles LHC chief justice

Published January 16, 2021
Lahore High Court Chief Justice Muhammad Qasim Khan on Friday was irked when it transpired that the Defence Housing Authority (DHA) also claimed its ownership on a land of the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) illegally occupied by the police. — Wikimedia Commons/File
Lahore High Court Chief Justice Muhammad Qasim Khan on Friday was irked when it transpired that the Defence Housing Authority (DHA) also claimed its ownership on a land of the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) illegally occupied by the police. — Wikimedia Commons/File

LAHORE: Lahore High Court Chief Justice Muhammad Qasim Khan on Friday was irked when it transpired that the Defence Housing Authority (DHA) also claimed its ownership on a land of the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) illegally occupied by the police.

“Now I understand as to why the police department has been reluctant to evacuate its possession from the land,” the chief justice said.

A provincial government’s application revealed that there was a litigation pending before a civil court on a suit of the DHA against the Elite Police Training School (EPTS).

Additional Advocate General Asif Bhatti further told the court that the civil court issued a stay order in favour of the DHA. He said in the presence of the stay order the possession of the land could not be given to the ETPB.

Expressing concern over the involvement of the DHA in the matter, Chief Justice Khan noted that the housing authority also faced a scam of plots allocated for the families of the martyrs.

“It seems the police want to usurp the land in connivance with the DHA,” the chief justice remarked and added that no one was above the law.

“You people are trying to grab the land meant for the minorities,” the CJ reminded Inspector General of Police Inam Ghani and other government officials present in court.

The law officer said the DHA claimed to have purchased the land from the ETPB, however, the police training school kept the possession with it for security reasons. He also presented a map of the land in question prepared by the office of the deputy commissioner.

He said the exchange deed between the ETPB and the EPTS had not been approved by the deputy commissioner.

CJ Khan pointed out that the land of the ETPB could not be sold or purchased, however, could be leased out for the purpose of earning.

The government’s application revealed that the land in question was exchanged by retired Maj Sanaullah, then in-charge monitoring of the EPTS in 2003, which was also agreed by the ETPB.

Chief Justice Khan directed IGP Ghani to furnish names of those who held the offices of the provincial police chief, CCPO and commandant of the police training school since the land was purchased for the school. The IGP was also directed to seek help from the secretary defence and trace the whereabouts of retired Maj Sanaullah.

The CJ also directed the law officer to assist the court on the next hearing as to under what offence the police department could be charged for occupying the land of the minorities.

Earlier, Anti-Corruption Establishment Director General Gohar Nafees told the court that his organisation lacked jurisdiction in the matter since the ETPB was a federal institution.

The hearing was adjourned for Jan 21.

Muhammad Zakariya and others had filed a contempt petition through Advocate Asif Awan against the police for not evacuating the land of the ETPB allotted to them on lease. Police in 2001 had requested the ETPB to let it construct the elite police training school on the 72 kanal and seven marla land. The police authorities had offered the ETPB land of the same size but in scattered form at three different points.

The board of the trust materialised the land deal in 2011 and later leased out the land it got in exchange to the petitioners and other individuals. However, the police once again took over the land during 2020 and deprived the petitioners of their lawful possession granted by the ETPB.

Published in Dawn, January 16th, 2021

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