Housing projects of ministries, govt depts marred by litigation

Published May 27, 2021
Almost all housing societies working under the cover of federal ministries and government departments are facing litigation in the Islamabad High Court. — File
Almost all housing societies working under the cover of federal ministries and government departments are facing litigation in the Islamabad High Court. — File

ISLAMABAD: Almost all housing societies working under the cover of federal ministries and government departments are facing litigation in the Islamabad High Court (IHC).

Scores of petitioners have filed about 50 identical petitions against various housing societies seeking multiple relief related to land disputes, allotment of plots, cancellation of allotment letters, alleged corruption and corrupt practices and elections of management committees.

The real estate business in the federal capital has grown manifold in about two decades. The private housing societies, especially working under the umbrella of government’s ministries and departments, have become famous not for their service delivery but for their property business.

In addition to the Defence Housing Authority (DHA) that was established under the statute, certain ministries and departments such as Cabinet Division Employees Cooperative Society, National Police Foundation, Ministry of Interior Employees Cooperative Housing Society, National Assembly Employees Cooperative Society, Naval Anchorage, Naval Farms, Senate Avenue, FIA Park Enclave Society, Ministry of Commerce Employees Cooperative Housing Society and Gulberg Green, a real estate venture of Intelligence Bureau, are on the top of the list.

These societies were created to cater to the housing needs of their respective employees. However, these have turned into commercial entities with general public openly buying and selling plots and files in these societies.

The IHC is hearing petitions against the DHA administration for charging ‘excessive’ development charges. Some petitioners have approached the court against the DHA for not handing them plots they had bought over a decade ago.

Likewise, a couple of petitions have been filed against cancellation of plots in the Naval Farms. The IHC in this case has also put the naval chief on notice.

Recent litigation in the IB housing society speaks volume about the revenue involved in the election of the management committees of societies that look after properties, execute development work and generate commercial activities.

The management of the Intelligence Bureau Cooperative Housing Society has taken families of 3,000 low paid staff from across the country on a week-long fully-funded trip to Galliyat and northern parts of the country on chauffeur-driven cars to ensure they voted in their favour, says a petition filed by a group of aggrieved officials of the intelligence agency.

Four senior IB officers - two deputy directors general (DDG) and two directors - have questioned transparency of the real estate business of their own IB housing society and alleged corrupt practices in recent elections of its management committee.

DDG Amir Mujahid Khan and retired Major Abdul Jabbar Tareen, directors Nadeem Arif Chaudhry and Hafeezullah Khan challenged the election of the management committee of the IB housing society.

The IB housing society was established to cater to the needs of the employees. The society was launched in the early 1980 and started a project with the name of Pakistan Town Phase-1 and then Phase-II and now Phase-III whose Gulberg Greens and Gulberg Residencia are top class real estate projects in Islamabad.

At present, the society has over 10,000 members but the allottees number more than 50,000, who have purchased plots to construct their houses.

The petition stated that the management committee spent millions of rupees on 3,000 members and their families on their air travel to Islamabad, accommodation in star hotels, tourism, food and cash incentives.

At present, the IHC has clubbed 45 pending cases of these housing societies.

The court observed that the launching of housing projects by state institutions was a classic example of conflict of interest. It noted that institutions that were supposed to be enforcing the law were the ones violating it.

According to the court, most housing projects of state agencies and departments are in violation of the Capital Development Authority Ordinance 1960.

IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah during hearing of the case observed that every state institution “seems to be busy in the business of real estate” while they should be looking into irregularities of the business.

Published in Dawn, May 27th, 2021

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