LAHORE: A civil court on Thursday maintained status quo on Jati Umra residence of the Sharif family in a suit accusing the Punjab government of forging the revenue record to disturb the property’s ownership.
Yousaf Abbas and three other children of Abbas Sharif, the late brother of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, had filed the suit seeking a declaration in their favour as lawful owners in possession of the property being legal heirs of the late Shamim Akhtar, the grandmother of the plaintiffs.
Nine government officials have been made defendants in the suit. The plaintiffs also arrayed Nawaz Sharif, Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif and their sister Kausar Yousaf as pro forma defendants saying they were unable to join the litigation as plaintiffs.
The suit states that the plaintiffs and pro forma defendants are the legal heirs and successors-in-interest of Shamim Akhtar, wife of Mian Muhammad Sharif. Ms Akhtar was the owner of the property measuring 241 kanals and 10 marlas in the revenue estate of Manak, tehsil Raiwind, Lahore district, through two registered sale deeds materialised in 1993 and 1996.
PML-N alleges PM’s aide got some revenue officials kidnapped to tamper with Jati Umra record
Ms Akhtar died in London on Nov 22, 2020, leaving behind the plaintiffs and pro forma defendants as her only legal heirs. The suit contends that the plaintiffs and pro forma defendants are the joint owners the Jati Umra, Raiwind, property measuring 1,580 kanals, including the land mentioned in the two sale deeds.
Out of the total 1,580 kanals, the land measuring 1,180 kanals is agricultural land whereas the remaining 400 kanals comprise mansions constructed by the plaintiffs and pro forma defendants who have been in possession of the land since they had purchased it.
Advocate Hamid Iftikhar Pannu, representing the plaintiffs, argued that the defendant authorities were out to maneuver the ownership record of the land illegally at the behest of the incumbent government. He said the sole purpose of the move was to torture the plaintiffs’ family by interfering in their peaceful possession for more than three decades.
The counsel said the plaintiffs had approached the officials to attest the inheritance mutation of the late Shamim Akhtar, but their right had been categorically denied as no steps whatsoever had been taken by the officials. He requested the court to restrain the government from disturbing the ownership and possession of the plaintiffs.
After hearing the arguments, Civil Judge Syed Faheemul Hassan Shah observed that the documentary evidence annexed with the suit made the case of the plaintiffs prima facie a good arguable case and issued notices to the defendants for April 27.
The defendants include the senior member of the Board of Revenue, chief secretary, chief settlement commissioner, Lahore Development Authority director general, commissioner of Lahore division, deputy commissioner, assistant commissioner of Raiwind, tehsildar and patwari of Raiwind.
Meanwhile, speaking at a press conference here on Thursday, PML-N information secretary Marriyum Aurangzeb said nobody was expecting that Prime Minister Imran Khan could stoop too low and order demolition of the Sharifs’ house.
Flanked by PML-N leader Atta Tarar, the former information minister said PM’s adviser Shahzad Akbar had got some revenue officials kidnapped to tamper with the land record to prove that it [Sharifs’ Raiwind residence] was a state land.
“Shahzad Akbar used to call his political opponents patwaris and now he held patwaris hostage,” she said, adding that the land in question had been in the ownership of the Sharif family.
“No notice was served on the Sharif family in this regard. If Imran Khan has a little respect, he should dare demolish the Raiwind residence in the day time,” she said. “We have a stay order against the government’s plan to demolish the Sharifs’ residence.”
Mr Tarar said that when the PTI failed to compete with the PML-N on political front, it made it a personal fight.
Published in Dawn, April 16th, 2021