SC asks Bahria Town to submit proposals for implementing May 4 verdict

 
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ISLAMABAD, Oct 17 (TNS): The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the Bahria Town (Pvt) Ltd to come up with proposals on how to implement its May 4 judgement declaring illegal the exchange of lands between the Malir Development Authority (MDA) and the property tycoon for development of a housing scheme.

A three-judge implementation bench headed by Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed said the court intended to take an option which should be least painful to the parties. But he hastened to add that it depended on the reasonableness of the proposals to be put forth by the Bahria Town on the implementation of the verdict.

“We have to implement the judgement but how it is implemented depends upon the parties,” Justice Saeed observed.

A five-judge SC bench headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar had on Oct 11 formed the implementation bench after the Bahria Town Karachi withdrew its petition seeking review of the May 4 verdict which had barred the developer from selling plots or constructed apartments in the housing scheme.

But before postponing the proceedings to Nov 14, the court made it clear that no extension of time would be granted in case the parties failed to furnish their suggestions. The court ordered National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Prosecutor General Syed Asghar Haider to keep it informed about the pace of investigations into the matter which the bureau had initiated earlier, but made it clear again that the court would not monitor its investigations nor would it issue any directive lest it caused prejudice to the parties concerned.

“But the court will not close its eyes and will also not allow anyone to close theirs,” Justice Saeed said, adding that the hands of the court were tied since it could not go beyond its earlier judgement which it had to execute.

As per the May 4 order, NAB is also required to move a reference before the accountability court concerned against all those found responsible for causing losses to the national exchequer.

On Tuesday, the court asked the parties to identify exact measurement of the lands in physical possession of the Bahria Town with proper description, as well as the prices of built-up properties and plots.

The Sindh government and the MDA were asked to provide the names of the officers of the provincial departments responsible for the grant of lands to the MDA and then to the Bahria Town.

Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan, representing the Bahria Town, argued that the developer had invested $1.5 billion by carrying out a large-scale development and created a Dubai-like city in a barren desert. He said the Sindh government also gained manifolds, instead of making losses, due to the development. “MDA is the biggest beneficiary,” he claimed.

The court asked the parties that evaluation about the estimates of the project should be conducted by an individual who should have no links with NAB.

The May 4 judgement pertains to the grant of 9,385 acres of land in 43 Dehs, consolidated by the MDA and then handed over in 2015 to the Bahria Town, some 9km from Toll Plaza on the Karachi-Hyderabad Superhighway.