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IHC reserves verdict in plots’ allotment case

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IHC reserves verdict in plots’ allotment case

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) Monday reserved its judgment in the allotment of plots to judges, bureaucrats and government employees of the Supreme Court case, and allotment of plots through lottery in sectors F-14 and F-15 of the federal capital.

A division bench comprising Chief Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Mohsin Akhter Kayani reserved its judgment after listening to arguments from the respondents. The federal secretary of housing and the director-general of the Federal Government Housing Authority appeared in the court during the day’s proceedings.

Justice Minallah said the secretary had asked the court for time to formulate a policy of the federal government – DG Federal Government Housing Authority – and in the meanwhile, had filed an appeal in the top court.

“From which order you are affected?” the judge asked the housing secretary. “You are saying something else and doing something else. Is it the right of civil servants to get a plot? If it is the right of government employees, then all government employees should get it instead of just officers.”

Advocate Akram Sheikh tried to speak, but the IHC chief justice did not allow it. “The court should give me a chance to speak. I am the most senior lawyer in the country. Respect is two-sided. If the court raises its voice, then it will mean something else,” he prayed.

The additional attorney general said the court decision was placed before the cabinet and it constituted a committee in that regard. Secretary Federal Ministry of Housing said the federal government had formulated a policy that only federal government employees would be given plots whereas journalists, lawyers and others had been excluded from the policy, seniority had been determined according to age.

“Judges were also not included when the plots were allotted to the employees of the federal government,” the court remarked. The secretary housing replied that regarding the allotment to judges, relevant details/ documents would be sent to the authority through the chief justice’s registrar.

“The Federal Government Housing Authority is now going to develop F-14, F-15 and Park Road; the new sectors being G-12 and F-12,” the secretary added. Justice Minallah asked whether the federal cabinet had reviewed the matter and further asked if a federal government employee who gets the plot, would he be able to sell it? If so, then the money from the public treasury will go into the pockets of private citizens, the judge added.

“How can we allow deprivation of basic rights of people? The plots should be allotted at market value; otherwise it is an abuse of other citizens,” he said. “Money should be used to build houses for the homeless workers. In the current scenario, about Rs3 billion would go from public treasury to the pockets of private citizens, why not build a hospital with this money?”

Chief Justice Minallah also asked if it was not a conflict of interest that the housing authority gave one plot to each of its members. The secretary said that the board members had not decided to take the plots.

Justice Minallah remarked that a plot of Rs50m was being given for Rs0.4 million. The government has forcibly taken lands from people and they have not received any compensation to date.

He added that judges and bureaucrats were present for the service of the people. “We are accountable to the people and we are sitting here on their money”. The secretary said the court had put the decision before the prime minister and he agreed. The prime minister said he would also change the law on land acquisition, after which the CDA and the Federal Government Housing Authority would not acquire the land.

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