Judges plot allocation in new capital sectors suspended by IHC. Justice Athar Minallah, the Chief Justice of the Islamabad High Court (IHC), stopped the assignment of properties to the capital’s judiciary in sectors F-14 and F-15 on Friday, claiming that the land award was an apparent conflict of interest.
The court also delivers a notice to the attorney general, requesting an explanation from the Ministry of Housing and Works about the policy of allocating plots to a select group of people. The case will be heard on September 13 by a larger bench.
During the balloting, the Federal General Elections Holding Authority (FGEHA) allocated plots to Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed and other superior judiciary judges and bureaucrats such as Dr Waqar Masood Khan and Dr Shahzad Arbab. As a result, they were elevated as special assistants to the prime minister after retiring from government service.
During the hearing of the case, Justice Minallah stated, “It has been reported that the Federal Government Employees Housing Authority recently held a poll for assignment of plots in F-14 and F-15.” According to the list, almost every judicial officer of Islamabad district courts who is supposed to resolve and rule on the claims and rights of the affected landowners is a benefactor.”
“It raises serious questions about conflict of interest because the plots are given to the beneficiaries at substantially lower prices than current market rates, and thus each beneficiary has a financial interest,” he said, adding that “amazingly, the list also includes those judicial officers who have been dismissed based on misconduct or corruption.” Judges plot allocation in new capital sectors suspended by IHC.
Justice Minallah pointed out that one of the beneficiaries was a judicial officer who was convicted and sentenced by this court and whose conviction was later supported by the august Supreme Court in the case of a kid named Tayyaba. Similarly, the IHC chief justice noted that “the judicial official who was discharged on corruption accusations in the fraudulent degree [Axact] case is also an allottee.”
According to the FGEHA’s records, three sacked additional district and sessions judges — Pervaizul Qadir Memon, Raja Khurram Ali Khan, and Jahangir Awan — were awarded a kanal plot in F-14 and F-15. In contrast, two former civil judges, Adnan Jamali and Amir Khalil were each given 14 marla plots.
Mr Memon was fired from his job in February 2018 after accepting a bribe to acquit MS Axact Shoaib Sheikh, the company’s CEO.
In the Tayyaba torture case, Raja Khurram Ali Khan was convicted and discharged from the army. At the same time, Jahangir Awan fired last year for firing in the air during a brawl on Constitution Avenue. The IHC management also fired civil judges Jamali and Khalil.
According to the court’s ruling, the names of judicial personnel under investigation for apparent incompetence are also among the beneficiaries. How could the government reward a public servant who had been fired for corruption or misbehavior, Justice Minallah wondered.
While the judges of the IHC turned down the FGEHA’s offer of plots, the judges of the lower courts made applications, and the authority assigned properties to each judge during balloting on August 17, 2021.
Sessions judges Tanvir Mir, Nisar Baig, Abdul Qayyum Khan, Sohail Ikram, Khalid Mehmood Ranjha, Iram Niazi, Malik Nazir Ahmed, Shiraz Kayani, Sohail Nasir, Khaqan Babar, Aqil Hussan Chohan, Aqil Hussan Chohan, Mumtaz Hussain, Mohammad Khalid Nawaz, Aqil Hussan Chohan.
Among the senior civil judges are Abdul Ghafoor, Aamir Aziz Khan, Nasruminallah, Mohammad Sohail, Mohammad Inamullah, Humayun Dilawar, Rasool Baksh Mirjat, Riwanuddin, Aamir Aziz Khan, M. Abbas, Raja Farrukh Ali Khan, Suhaib Bilal, Aamir Khalil, Abdul Ghafoor, and Mohammad Shabbir. Under the FGEHA’s category II, they were each allotted a 14-marla plot. According to the court’s directives, it would likewise halt the allocation of plots to IHC officials.
The FGEHA, interestingly, allocated plots to IHC officials whose appointments had been declared unlawful by the Supreme Court. Shahzada Islam, Qazi Shakeel, Shahzada Islam, and Umer Draz Shakir are among the extra registrars.
According to Justice Minallah, the IHC and district courts in Islamabad were swamped with lawsuits against the FGEHA. Almost every judicial officer in the district judiciary has a considerable financial interest in the authority. Citing a Supreme Court decision in the matter of Anwar and others v. The Crown [PLD 1955 FC 185] said that “no judge can be a judge in his suit.”
Justice Minallah cited another case, ‘Federation of Pakistan v. Muhammad Akram Shaikh, etc.,’ in which the Supreme Court stated that “when a judge’s pecuniary or financial interest, no matter how small, is likely to be affected as a direct result of the decision, in any case, he is ipso facto, disqualified from hearing it…”
“It is evident that judicial officers’ pecuniary interests are created when he or she, as the case may be, becomes a beneficiary of the extraordinary benefit of receiving state land at prices much lower than market rates,” the IHC chief judge stated. The impression of a conflict of interest is enough to undermine plaintiffs’ faith in the legal system.”
“It commenced registration under membership drive Phase-II on ‘age-wise seniority basis’ for federal government employees and other designated groups in April 2015 as per authorized quota policy and eligibility requirements of the scheme,” the FGEHA said in response to a news item published earlier.
Until May 2016, nearly 80,000 members were registered, including government employees from BS-1 to BS-22 and superior and lower court judges, according to the FGEHA. In addition, allottees whose names were included in the balloting of plots for sectors F-14/15 were issued consent letters in 2016, even though the balloting was only to assign them plot numbers.
The housing authority also stated that 1,704 F-14/15 category-1 (BS-20 to BS-22) allottees, including judges, were allotted plots through random computerized balloting on 17-08-2021 in a transparent manner. At the same time, 1,690 category-2 (BS-18 to BS-19) allottees and 1,329 allottees in category-3 (BS-16 to BS-17) were also allotted plots.
The housing authority stated that all allotments were made following the FGEHA’s approved criteria/policy. Further, that balloting for allocating plot numbers to bona fide allottees was performed utilizing a transparent computerized balloting system.
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