ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court has imposed a cost of Rs1 million on Bahria Town (Pvt) Ltd for wasting its time and directed the realtor to pay the amount to the Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation (SIUT) — a facility providing free-of-cost healthcare.

In addition, Bahria Town is also required to reimburse to the Sindh government an equal amount of the money spent on a survey conducted by the Survey of Pakistan (SoP) to assess the land in possession of the developer.

The directives were contain­ed in a 13-page written order, iss­ued by the apex court on Monday.

A three-judge SC bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Qazi Faez Isa and comprising Justice Aminuddin Khan and Justice Athar Minallah, had on Nov 23 taken up an application moved by Bahria Town through its counsel Salman Aslam Butt.

The application stated that pursuant to the March 21, 2019 SC judgement, the realtor had to receive 16,986 acres of land in Sindh’s Malir district, but it received only 11,747 acres, a shortfall of 5,149 acres.

The counsel had argued that since the entity did not get the promised land, it stopped payments of instalments when it had agreed to pay Rs460 billion within a period of seven years and that through the application it brought the development to the notice of the apex court.

The order noted that the survey of the land was undertaken by SoP and its director explained it was carried out scientifically by using Global Navigation Satellite System Receivers in the presence of the realtor’s own survey team. The cost of the survey was Rs1m.

The SoP report stated that in reality BTPL was in possession of a total 19,931.63 acres, 17,709.45 acres in Malir and 2,222.18 acres in Jamshoro district. The unauthorised land in Bahria Town’s possession is 3,035.63 acres.

Thus the myth of the stated shortfall of land, the order said, had been fully exposed by the report and Bahria Town’s own filings in the court. The realtor undoubtedly knew that there was no shortfall in the land in its possession because it did not abandon the project and made no effort to have its applications, alleging shortfall, fixed for hearing in court, nor filed a single application stating that the matter was urgent; such applications are filed daily under the Supreme Court Rules, 1980, said the order.

“It appears that BTPL filed the applications, alleging shortfall in land, merely as a pretext to avoid paying the instalments which it had agreed to pay. The applications were also used as a smokescreen to conceal the additional land in Bahria Town’s possession.”

An amount of Rs166.25bn, excluding applicable mark-up, should have by now been paid, but only Rs24bn was paid, the order regretted.

Referring to the remittances of 136m pounds and $44m from abroad into the accounts maintained by NBP in the name of SC registrar, the order regretted that it was unfortunate that without seeking SC’s permission, the amounts were remitted into its account and the Supreme Court was unnecessarily involved with money detected by the National Crime Agency, UK, which probably were proceeds of criminal activity.

BTPL, the order said, had not deposited in the Supreme Court account the instalments it had agreed to pay for a considerable time, and was in default of the consent order.

After the payments, NBP will close the account maintained in the name of the SC registrar.

Published in Dawn, November 28th, 2023

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