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RAWALPINDI, Feb 9: The Rawalpindi Bench of the Lahore High Court on Friday summoned the head of Behria Town and officials of the Defence Housing Authority and the Punjab Cooperative Housing Department to answer charges of land fraud filed by a housing society.

Justice Abdul Shakoor Paracha of the Lahore High Court issued the summons after taking up the petition filed by secretary of the Revenue Department Employees Cooperative Housing Society, Mian Riazuddin, along with nine members of the society, accusing the respondents of occupying the society’s land fraudulently.

Their lawyer, Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui, told the court that the Society had been established to allot plots to workers of the revenue department of Rawalpindi district.

But its administrator merged the whole society into Behria Town and sold all the land to its owner Malik Riaz who subsequently sold it to the Defence Housing Authority.

Contending that a society cannot be merged into another society, nor land could be transferred in the name of another person, the petitioners’ counsel termed all these steps “totally illegal”.

After hearing his arguments, the learned judge directed that all steps taken and decisions made from June 17, 2004 till now be considered illegal and so non-effective.

All this happened due to the mutual collusion of the Cooperative and Housing Societies Department, he observed.

Justice Abdul Shakoor Paracha then issued notices to registrar and secretary Punjab Co-operative Housing Societies Department, officials of Defence Housing Authority and Behria Town and also administrator Col Abdullah Sadiq to appear before the court on February 27 during the next hearing of the case.

According to the petitioners, four years after the Revenue Department Employees Cooperative Housing Society was established in 1989 near Morgah, some of its members approached the Lahore High Court and prayed that elections of the society be ordered so that development work could be started.

The court issued directives to the Registrar Punjab Cooperative Housing Society to make arrangements for the elections of the society. As such, elections were held on March 31, 2004 on the orders of the superior court. Mian Riazuddin was elected as secretary along with other members for different positions.

However, instead of handing over the charge to the newly- elected office-bearers, the petitioners allege, officials of the Cooperative Housing Society, appointed Abdullah Sadiq, a retired colonel, as administrator of the society.

The officials argued that the elections were not transparent so the administrator would handle small matters of the society while new elections were arranged within 90 days.

However, in February, 2005, Abdullah, in connivance with officials of Punjab Cooperative Housing Department and Behria Town, merged the Revenue Employees Housing Society into Behria Town and transferred all its 2,700 kanal land in the name of its head Malik Riaz.

The latter sold the land to Defence Housing Authority for Rs50 million in 2006 and transferred the land in its name.

The Defence Housing Authority, after getting occupation of this illegal land, started its Askari 14 scheme on it.