ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday reserved its decision on balloting for the F-14 and F-15 sectors by the Federal Government Employees Housing Authority (FGEHA)
A division bench, comprising Chief Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani, heard identical petitions filed against the August 2021 balloting in which FGEHA had allotted 4,723 plots to top judges, including incumbent Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed, senior pusine judge Umar Atta Bandial and 50 other judges of the superior courts, senior bureaucrats and others.
IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah on September 13 suspended the allotment while hearing the petitions and an appeal against the single-member bench decision that had directed FGEHA to consider the left-over applicants for G-13 and G-14 who had applied for plots for over a decade ago.
Interestingly, the FGEHA executive board also made allotment to all of its members.
The board comprises secretary housing and works Dr Imran Zeb Khan, FGEHA director general Tariq Rasheed, additional secretary Zahoor Ahmed, draftsman of the law ministry Mohammad Israr, senior chief Planning Commission Mohammad Anwar, senior joint secretary finance division Rizwan Ahmed Sheikh, Chief Commissioner Islamabad Amir Ali Ahmed, chief executive of Pakistan Housing Authority Foundation Amir Mohyuddin, FGEHA chief engineer retired Capt Imtiazul Haq Khattak, chief planner Dr Asghar Naeem and joint secretary ministry of housing Mohammad Buksh Sangi.
During an earlier hearing, the secretary housing sought adjournment to formulate a policy for allotment of plots.
Justice Minallah pointed out that the FGEHA DG had filed an appeal before the Supreme Court and asked the latter whether he felt aggrieved from any interim order of the IHC?
The secretary housing informed the court that the federal government had formulated a policy for allotment of plots.
He also revealed that journalists, lawyers and all categories other than civil servants had been excluded from the government housing schemes.
However, when Justice Minallah inquired as to whether the judges would be entitled to get plots in government schemes, the secretary housing replied that the chief justices of the superior courts may send nominations through respective registrars.
Justice Minallah remarked that the policy should not be confined to officers only as it was the right of the low grade employees to get a plot at subsidised rates.
On the court’s query, the secretary housing said FGEHA was developing F-14, F-15, a housing scheme at Park Road and the new sectors of G-12 and F-12.
The court noted that the FGEHA members got subsidised plots and then disposed them of at exorbitant rates in the open market which was an injustice.
The authority could have earned Rs3 billion from auction of plots in each sector and the amount could be utilised for establishing new hospitals, controlling inflation etc.
Justice Minallah pointed out that by including judges in the housing schemes, FGEHA developed the interest of superior courts judges and when they will take up cases related to the authority it would be tantamount to clash of interests.
FGEHA’s lawyer Mohammad Akram Sheikh explained the salient features of the policy.
He argued that when the statute provides an internal mechanism for redressing grievances, approaching those authorities was mandatory and it did not fall within the ambit of conflict of interest.
He submitted to the court that the forum of the IHC was being used in these proceedings to scandalise the judges of superior judiciary.
Published in Dawn, November 23rd, 2021