• SC directed developer to pay Rs17.5bn in 2019
• Developer citing financial crisis offers commercial area to authority

ISLAMABAD: The city managers have sought the opinion of the attorney general of Pakistan (AGP) on a proposal floated by owner of BNP Group’s multi-storey One Constitution Avenue project regarding the proposed new resettlement plan of outstanding payment owed by the developer to the Capital Development Authority (CDA).

In response to a proposal submitted by chief executive of the said project, Abdul Hafeez Sheikh, CDA’s Member Planning Naveed Ilahi, through a letter, sought guidance from the AGP.

The said project was de-sealed in January last year after the developer deposited Rs1.7 billion with the CDA on account of first installment of Rs17.5 billion, fixed by a three-member bench of the Supreme Court headed by then chief justice Mian Saqib Nisar in 2019.

However, now, sources said the developer, through a letter, told the CDA that due to current economic conditions “it has become impossible for us to complete the project and also make the annual installment of Rs2.9 billion”.

“Present value of the balance amount of Rs14.583 billion [which, according to him] comes to Rs9.46 billion discounted at 15.57pc,” the developer wrote.

The letter further stated: “BNP offers to transfer the commercial area valuing Rs9.46 billion in favour of CDA immediately ... CDA will become the exclusive owner of the said commercial property in lieu of the balance ‘discounted’ lease amount payable and will be at the liberty to use, rent or sell the commercial area.”

The group also requested buyers of apartments to “voluntarily share some of the unreasonable burden imposed on us by Supreme Court” but none of them responded positively, the letter stated, adding regrettably, all this has compromised our ability to complete the project and make payments of lease installments.

After receiving the said letter, sources said that the member estate decided that CDA cannot entertain the proposal of the developer without getting input from the AGP. “I am directed to enclose a representation received from Chief Executive M/s BNP, Islamabad with regards to the settlement of pending litigations and balance amount owed by them to CDA as per the orders of Honorable Supreme Court of Pakistan dated 09-1-2019.

“It is submitted that the office of Attorney General representing the federal government before Apex Court and is now also representing the government in the pending review petitions filed by both M/s BNP and Authority [CDA] separately,” read the letter.

“Moreover, earlier a detailed inquiry was conducted by a committee constituted by the then prime minister on 16-11-2017 under the Attorney General of Pakistan in pursuance of the orders of the Honourable Islamabad High Court to address certain issues arising out of the litigation concerning the project,” it added.

It is relevant to note here that the said project was sealed in 2016 by CDA and lease of the plot was also cancelled as the plot was meant for construction of a hotel but the developer had built and sold residential apartments instead.

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) upheld CDA’s decision but the Supreme Court restored the lease in 2019 and directed the BNP Group to pay CDA Rs17.5 billion in eight years.

According to the Supreme Court’s ruling, the developer is supposed to pay Rs17.5 billion in eight years in installments starting from January 2019. Both the developer and the CDA separately had filed review petitions in court against the said ruling, but decided to implement the SC judgment of 2019 in true letter and spirit till the outcome of the review petitions.

This project is said to be an elite project as buyers of the apartments in the said building include former prime minister Imran Khan, former chief justice of Pakistan Nasirul Mulk, former Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Ehsan Mani, PML-N leader Khawaja Mohammad Asif, Federal Ombudsperson for the Protection of Women Against Sexual Harassment at the Workplace Kashmala Tariq.

According to the developer, two towers of the serviced apartments have been completed and work on construction of the shopping mall is near completion and construction of the hotel is yet to be carried out. The CDA had auctioned the plot to the said company in 2005 to build a luxury hotel.

Published in Dawn, August 17th, 2022

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