ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday suspended the allotment of 4,723 plots in Islamabad’s two new sectors, including as many as 1,704 plots measuring one kanal each that were allotted to senior bureaucrats and top judges by a federal government housing authority last month.

Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed, senior puisne judge and other judges of the Supreme Court, provincial high courts and bureaucrats in BS-20 to BS-22 were allotted 1,704 plots of one kanal each in Sectors F-14 and F-15 on Aug 17.

The Federal Government Employees Housing Authority (FGEHA) also allotted 1,690 plots measuring 14 marlas each to officers in BS-18 and BS-19, 1,329 plots measuring 10 marlas each to those in BS-16 and BS-17.

The IHC suspended balloting of the plots in sectors F-14 and F-15 till the next hearing, fixed for Oct 14, through an interim order passed on an appeal against a single-member bench directive to the FGEHA to consider around 30,000 applicants who had been waiting for allotment of plots in sectors G-13 and G-14 for a decade.

Asks federal govt to explain preferential treatment in distribution of state land while ignoring 30,000 applicants

The IHC bench, comprising Chief Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani, while hearing an appeal against the single-member bench recalled the stay order of a division bench in the matter.

“The judgement, dated September 28, 2016…does not appear to suffer from any legal infirmity, therefore, the interim order, dated November 28, 2016, is hereby recalled. Consequently the balloting relating to allotment of plots in sectors F-14 and F-15 stands suspended till the next date of hearing,” stated the interim order of the IHC bench.

At the outset, the IHC was informed that its earlier order about land acquisition for the sectors had been placed before the Prime Minister and the federal cabinet after which a committee headed by Minister Asad Umar was constituted to review policy regarding land acquisition and its use by the FGEHA.

However, the court observed, “distribution of acquired land by the Authority is not in accordance with a policy based on public interest.”

Beneficiaries

In addition to bureaucrats, about 50 judges of the superior judiciary including CJP Gulzar Ahmed, and two former chief justices Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry and Anwar Zaheer Jamali were allotted plots through the August 17 balloting.

Justice Faisal Arab, Justice Manzoor Ahmed Malik, Justice Iqbal Hameedur Rehman, Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel, Justice Sardar Tariq Masood, Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Maqbool Baqir were allotted two plots of one kanal each in the new sectors.

Also, one-kanal plots were allotted to Justice Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Amir Hani Muslim, Justice Riaz Ahmed Khan, Justice Abdul Latif Khan, Justice Malik Manzoor Hussain, Justice Sheikh Najamul Hassan, Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, Justice Jalaluddin, Justice Asadullah Khan, Justice Irshad Qaiser, Justice Mohammad Daud Khan, Justice Yar Mohammad, Justice Zaheer Ahmed Shahwani, Justice Nisar Hussain Khan, Justice Noorul Haq N. Qureshi, Justice Sahib Khan, Justice Abdul Sami Khan, Justice Mohammad Younas Khan, Justice Mushir Alam, Justice Ali Akbar Qureshi, Justice Ashraf Jahan, Justice Qazi Mohammad Amin Ahmed, Justice Mohammad Ghazanfar Khan, Justice Ikramullah, Justice Aminuddin Khan, Justice Lal Jan Khattak, Justice Qaiser Rashid Khan, Justice Ishaq Khan, Justice Azam Khan, Justice Said Maroof Khan, Justice Khilji Arif Hussain, Justice Mehmood Akhtar Shahid Siddiqui, Justice Sarmad Jalal Usmani, Justice Ijaz Ahmed Chaudhry, Justice Mohammad Athar Saeed, Justice Dost Mohammad Khan, Justice Sajjad Ali Shah and Justice Syed Zahid Hussain.

“The beneficiaries of balloting regarding sectors F-14 and F15 [also] included those who have been convicted or dismissed from service on charges of corruption or misconduct,” the IHC order stated.

The court was apprised that over 30,000 FGEHA members, who had been waiting for allotment of plots for a long time, were ignored in distribution of state land comprising sectors F-14 and F-15.

The matter was dealt with in detail vide judgment of September 28, 2016, the court noted, asking the federal government to explain preferential treatment given to a few while ignoring more than 30,000 members.

The court was also informed that besides F-14 and F-15 sectors, two other sectors G-12 and F-12 have also been allocated to the FGEHA for its distribution to its members at substantially reduced rates than the current market prices.

“It is estimated that in case of each sector, there will be loss of approximately Rs200 billion to Rs300 billion to the exchequer, because the acquired land is not disposed of through auction nor offered for sale to the general public at current market rates,” the court observed.

The IHC bench directed the federal government “to satisfy that how the phenomenon of loss to the exchequer and extending extraordinary pecuniary benefit to some individuals meets the threshold of public use of state property acquired through exercising the power of eminent domain. It is for the federal government to satisfy us that the distribution of acquired land by the Authority is in public interest and for public use.”

The court expected that the federal cabinet would have formulated a policy in conformity with public interest and public use of land acquired by the FGEHA.

Published in Dawn, September 14th, 2021

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