Sindh

SC bars Bahria Town Karachi from selling, allotting land

The Supreme Court (SC) on Friday barred Bahria Town from selling or allotting land in the Bahria Town Karachi project after declaring that the allotment of land to the company by the Sindh government and by the Malir Development Authority (MDA) was illegal.
The bench hearing the case, in a 2-1 verdict, also directed the National Accountability Bureau to file references against those responsible for legal violations and decide the case within three months.
Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, who is set to retire just three days hence, authored the hard-hitting majority judgement.
“Having thus considered, we are constrained to declare that the grant of the land to the MDA, its exchange with the land of Bahria Town and anything done pursuant thereto being against the provisions of COGLA 1912 [Colonization of Government Lands Act, 1912] and statement of conditions are void ab initio and as such have no existence,” the court ruled.”The government land would go back to the government and the land of Bahria Town exchanged for the government land would go back to Bahria Town,” the court ordered.
The court also considered the interests of those people Bahria Town has already sold the land to.
“Since a great deal of work has been done by the Bahria Town and a third-party interest has been created in favour of hundreds of allotees, the land could be granted to the Bahria Town afresh by the Board of Revenue under the provisions of COGLA 1912.”
“What would be the terms and conditions of grant, what would be the price of the land, whether it would be the one at which the Bahria Town sold the land to the people by and large, how much of government land and how much of the private land has been utilized by the Bahria Town, and what Bahria Town is entitled to receive in terms of money on account of development of the land are the questions to be determined by the implementation bench of this court.”
“We, therefore, request the Honorable Chief Justice of Pakistan to constitute a bench for the implementation of this judgement in its letter and spirit,” it asked.
“Bahria Town shall not sell any plot, built-up unit, apartment etc after the announcement of this judgement. Any allotment made after the announcement of this judgement shall be void,” the court ordered.
“The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) shall pick up the thread from where it left and take its investigation to its logical end. The investigation report which was submitted in the Court and sealed under its order may now be collected for further action. The investigation be completed within a period of three months from the date of announcement of this judgement and a reference be filed in the Accountability Court against all those who are found responsible for causing loss to the state exchequer,” the court further ruled.
“We have been told that government land has also been allotted to DHA and many other societies on cheaper rates as compared to the rates in this case. If so, we would request the Honourable Chief Justice of Pakistan to take Suo Moto action in this behalf so that like be treated alike.”