The Supreme Court on Tuesday heard a petition filed by Bahria Town seeking review of the apex court’s three-member bench decision declaring the real estate developer’s three major projects in Karachi, Rawalpindi and Murree as illegal.
A larger bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar and comprising Justice Ejaz-ul-Ahsan, Justice Faisal Arab and Justice Asif Saeed Khosa heard the case.
In May this year, a three-member bench of the apex court headed by Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan had declared three Bahria Town projects: Bahria Town Karachi, Bahria Town Rawalpindi and New and New Murree Development Scheme, as illegal.
The projects were outlawed due to the illegal procurement of land and encroaching upon government’s land. The apex court had 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 a massive land swap with the Malir Development Authority (MDA) was done illegally.
Separately, the SC had also held Bahria Town responsible for encroachment on forest land in the Takht Pari area near Islamabad.
The Supreme Court had also struck a death blow to the New Murree Development Project/Scheme, which had been roundly criticised by environment protection agencies for endangering the forests and land around Islamabad.
The real estate developer had moved to the apex court seeking review of its decision.
The review petition came up for hearing before a larger bench headed by the Chief Justice of Pakistan today.
During the course of the hearing, the Chief Justice remarked that even an inch of encroachment would not be permitted.
Justice Asif Saeed observed that the land records in Takht Pari area were in the name of Chaudhry Salik and Chaudhry Saleh and others. The court inquired as to what was the role of the then chief minister in the transfer of the land?
Chief Justice remarked the forest land was allotted to Bahria Town on the directives of the then chief minister.
The top judge said that the court is going to issue notices to the entire Chaudhry family (Chaudhries of Gujrat) in the case.
Bahria Town’s counsel Aitzaz Ahsan requested the court to allow him to submit further documents in the case.
The defence attorney argued the official records of the Takht Pari land had not been provided. Upon this, a member of the bench Justice Ejazul Ahsan remarked that the court’s verdict was based on the documents submitted by Bahria Town.
The Chief Justice asked Aitzaz Ahsan to advance his arguments, saying the court will take up his application for submission of the additional document in the later stage.
The CJP remarked Bahria Town would not be permitted to encroach upon the entire land of Takht Pari by purchasing just four canals of the land. The CJP stated that the land was state’s property.
Justice Asif Saeed remarked that one canal of the land had been allotted to the family of the former Chief Minister of Punjab. The CJP questioned how the land was then transferred to Malik Riaz from the former chief minister.
The chief justice said that the court is mulling to sent the issue of the land transfer to the National Accountability Burau (NAB).