KARACHI: Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed on Friday observed that the country is apparently being run by a black economy of real estate and construction sector and every person wants to invest in the business of lands.
He made these observations, while heading the SC bench, comprising Justice Ijaz Ul Ahsan and Justice Qazi Muhammad Amin Ahmed, which was hearing a bunch of applications pertaining to the encroachment on amenity plots of the Karachi Cooperative Housing Society (KCHS) at the Karachi Registry of the Supreme Court.
The Chief Justice observed that the allotment in KCHS and other such societies were completed in the 1960s but everything was changing now.
“[The] amenity plots have been converted into residential and commercial projects and each one of the city’s 24 cooperative housing societies are doing the same,” he observed, pointing out that after the beginning of this illegal business every other business has closed down or subdued.
“Factories are closing, industrial activities are diminishing and investment is diverting to real estate and construction,” Justice Gulzar observed, saying that there used to be markets and shops in designated commercial areas in the past but now there are shops and markets at every nook and corner of the city.
“[The] economy seems to have totally shifted to the dead-stock of real estate and construction, which does not move and does not roll,” The Chief Justice said.
The counsel for the KCHS Union pleaded the bench to restore the two amenity plots SMCA-21 and SMCA-23 to their original status as envisioned in the original layout plan and map of 1954. But it transpired that none of the parties to the proceedings had filed a legible copy of the original layout plan with their reports and pleadings.
According to the KCHS Union’s counsel, plot SMCA-23 was bifurcated after 1974 and allotted to private persons. One such person Junaid Magda appeared before the bench having a lease issued in his name for a portion where he claimed a hall had been built for the community activities. However, the Federal Ministry of Housing and Works secretary, who was present in the court for another matter, submitted that he was totally unaware of the issuance of such a lease by the ministry.
The secretary said the ministry had no powers to change the original land use provided in the layout plan.
Citing claims and counterclaims of the parties to the proceedings, the bench observed that it was of the firm view that the land meant for parks and playgrounds could not be converted and allotted to private persons to be used for residential or commercial purposes.
The bench made a map of the Karachi Development Authority (KDA) master plan part of the court record, which showed one of the two plots had space reserved for a modern club and park.
The bench ordered that no marriage functions would further take place at any of the above plots. The bench observed that the KCHS Union would ensure the compliance of the order and the union’s secretary might take assistance of the law-enforcement agencies in this regard.
The bench directed the Ministry of Housing secretary to file a report about two plots along with the original layout plan. The bench pointed out that the union and Junaid Magda could also file documents they have in their possession before the next hearing scheduled after a month.
Bahadur Yar Jang Society
While hearing the matter regarding bifurcation of an amenity plot in Bahadur Yar Jang Cooperative Housing Society, the bench directed the secretary of the Ministry of Housing and Works to submit a report.
According to an applicant, on a portion of the plot, measuring 1,520 square yard a multistorey building, Al Bari Tower, had been constructed.
Counsel for the builder Rashid A Rizvi submitted that the plot, where Al Bari Tower had been constructed, had wrongly been shown as part of the amenity plot.
He claimed there was manipulation in maps and there was a report that has been filed in the proceedings before the Sindh High Court. The report, according to the counsel, would clear many things.
Rashid Rizvi sought time for filing a concise statement. The bench adjourned the hearing for a month, allowing the parties to share documents and restrained the society and builder from creating any third party interest in building and the land.
Hearing a bunch of applications pertaining to encroachments on amenity plots and carving out plots for residential and commercial purposes in PECHS, the bench issued directives for filing original layout plan of the society.
The bench made the president of the PECHS Union personally liable to produce and submit the original layout plan before the court.
The bench observed that after considering the layout plan and hearing the parties, it would pass the order in the matter on the next hearing.
Al Habib Housing Society
The bench in its order on Thursday in a matter pertaining to allotment of public park land to private persons in Al Habib Cooperative Housing Society had issued notices to the society’s secretary Mehtab Alam and two others for cancellation of their bails granted in the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) reference.
The NAB had filed a reference against them for issuing 32 allotment orders, carving out plots from the public park land.
The bench on Friday found that the Sindh High Court had only granted the accused interim pre-arrest bail, which was not confirmed but the bail petition was disposed of with the directives to the accused to furnish surety bond before the trial court.
The NAB’s deputy prosecutor general submitted the reference against the accused has been fixed for framing of charges on December 21 and he would ensure expeditious trial of the accused, besides ensuring furnishing of their surety bond.
The bench observed that if it was found that the 32 people were wrongly issued allotments, the NAB would ensure that they would be paid compensation by the accused.