LHC Stays Drive To Retrieve Land

Dawn

CHAKWAL: The local administration’s drive against ‘illegal occupation of government land’ has hit controversy as Lahore High Court (LHC)’s Rawalpindi bench has restrained it from further action and directed it to maintain status quo on at least six properties till the next order.

Hearing four writ petitions regarding Chakwal administration’s drive against illegal land occupation on Friday, LHC also summoned Deputy Commissioner Abdul Sattar Esani and Assistant Commissioner Muzaffar Mukhtar on Sept 17 and Sept 26.

The petitioners sought directions to restrain the district administration from taking any action against their properties which they claimed were owned by them legally.

The district administration got demolished 11 shops on Tehsil Chowk on Thursday and sealed a plaza and market. The AC marked 40 owners who according to him were occupying government land by constructing markets and plazas on it.

Interestingly, these markets and plazas have been there for decades on at least 14 kanals located in the heart of the city.

The owners claimed they acquired these properties through legal means and had documents but the revenue department did not update its record.

Advocate Irfanul Hassan Zaidi along with Advocate Chaudhry Sajjad Akmal Gondal and Advocate Nuzhat Fatima Chaudhry fi led a writ petition before LHC on behalf of Sajid Mehmood and 16 others and sought suspension of impugned orders of the assistant commissioner and also sought that administration be refrained from further action regarding four properties owned by his clients.

Justice Viqas Rauf Mirza restrained the administration from action and summoned the AC and DC.

Similarly, Khawja Daniyal Salim also fi led a writ petition regarding sealing of his plaza before the LHC which was also entertained by the same judge.

In his petition fi led through Advocate Amir Butt, he demanded unsealing of the plaza and suspension of impugned order issued by the AC.

Although the court has not allowed the unsealing of the plaza, it refrained the authorities from taking any further action and summoned both the officials on Sept 17.

Advocate Zaidi told Dawn that the assistant commissioner did not have any power to demolish a building.

AC Muzaffar Mukhtar said the 11 shops which he got demolished were constructed on Punjab government’s land where a patwarkhana existed till 1955.

On the other hand, Advocate Zaidi claimed that the land was an evacuee property owned by Tota Singh, son of Nihal Singh, and was transferred to Umme Kalsoom on Aug 30, 1961, under Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 1958.

Then the property was purchased by Ghulam Yasin in an auction conducted by the additional district and sessions judge Rawalpindi in Sept 1961 after Kalsoom abandoned it.

“The property came to my clients through legal means. But the revenue department did not bother to update its record as property on which once construction is carried out no longer falls in the domain of the revenue department.”

Mr Zaidi gave similar arguments regarding three other properties.

Advocate Amir Butt in his writ petition fi led on behalf of Khawja Daniyal Salim maintained that the property sealed by the AC was built on a land which the father of his client purchased from Nanak Shah in July 1947.

“We have this property for the last 72 years and have relevant documents of its entitlement,” said Khawja Babar Salim, elder brother of Khawja Daniyal Salim.

However, AC Mukhtar said all illegal occupants failed to present their authentic documents.

“We have started action after thorough investigations,” he said, adding the district administration would win the legal battle.

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