SC seeks workable plan from Bahria Town in land case

Dawn

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked property tycoon Messrs Bahria Town (Pvt) Ltd to come up with a workable plan showing a way forward in cases related to the encroachment on forest and Shamlat lands in the areas of Rakh Takht Pari, Rawalpindi and Sulkhtar-Manga lands, Murree.
A three-judge bench, headed by Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed, also asked Barrister Syed Ali Zafar and Khawaja Tariq Raheem, the counsel for the real estate tycoon, to also compare the lands in their client’s possession with those mentioned by the deputy commissioner in his report as having been encroached upon by Bahria Town.
The court had taken up the implementation case of two judgements of May 4, 2018 pertaining to Bahria Town projects in Malir, Takht Pari and Murree.
Nearly two months ago, the Supreme Court had approved the Bahria Town’s offer of Rs460 billion for the Malir project.
Bench to study proposals filed by real estate tycoon for Rawalpindi, Murree lands
On Tuesday, the bench made it clear that the SC would issue necessary directives in the cases related to the lands in Rawalpindi and Murree after going through the proposals and set of solutions submitted by Bahria Town.
At the outset, Barrister Zafar told the court that his client would file a report identifying Shamlat and other areas in the forest land which were in Bahria Town’s use.
Before postponing further proceedings till May 23, the Supreme Court observed that it would not go beyond the May 4 judgement. At this, Khawaja Tariq Raheem interjected that his client accepted the judgement.
On May 4, the apex court had in a majority judgement held that the area of Takht Pari — located six kilometres from the Rawalpindi city near G.T. Road — encompasses 2,210 acres and not 1,741 acres. Therefore, the exchange of land purportedly encroached upon by Bahria Town and the Punjab forest department as well as the attestation of mutations were based on erroneous assumption about the area.
Likewise, in the case pertaining to the 4,542 kanals of Sulkhtar and Manga land (Murree), the SC had held that the area belonged to Shamlat and could be used only for limited purposes.
At a previous hearing, Bahria Town through an application had requested the court to dispose of the case as it was ready to settle the Takht Pari case by purchasing 684 acres or 5,472 kanals at Rs13.13 billion in 60 quarterly instalments, the first instalment to be commenced three months after acceptance of the offer by the court.
The developer had also asked the court to order ceasing of all ongoing investigations by all agencies, including National Accountability Bureau, and also restrain them from further investigations.
The court was also requested to direct the Punjab government to provide all assistance to ensure atmosphere conducive for normal business activity.
According to the applicant, Bahria Town carried out development works as per international standards due to which the overall value of the land in the vicinity went up manifolds, thus providing a tangible monetary advantage to the government as well.

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