Monday, an additional and session court in Rawalpindi sent a notice to the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) and called in its deputy administrator. This was done after Awami Muslim League Sheikh Rashid asked the court to stop the department from taking away a property next to his Lal Haveli home.
Rashid got a notice from the department earlier telling him to leave the land and rooms next to his Lal Haveli home within seven days.
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In its notice to Rashid, the ETPB said that the AML head and his brother, Sheikh Sadeeq, had lost “legal possession” of the property because they had not responded to the authority’s earlier notice or paid the back rent.
The ETPB administration also said that if the property wasn’t vacated within seven days, the police would be called.
Rashid and Sadeeq filed a petition against the orders today. His nephew, Sheikh Shafique, and his lawyer, Sardar Abdul Razzaq, then went to see Additional District and Sessions Judge Khursheed Alam Bhatti.
During the hearing, Razzaq told the judge that the “main case” was also being heard in court, and that the next hearing was set for October 24.
He said that giving Rashid orders to leave was an act of “political revenge.”
“The Evacuee Trust Property Board wants to use the police to attack Lal Haveli because of pressure from the government.”
The lawyer said that Rashid owned Lal Haveli as his own property.
After hearing what he had to say, the court sent a notice to the ETPB and told its deputy administrator to appear in court tomorrow (Tuesday).
Rashid had earlier said in a tweet that “all the departments failed to find anything against him after looking into 16 ministries, so they have come up with three-marla Lal Haveli.”
“Lal Haveli is not 900…Lal Haveli is part of history that no one can change.”
The letter asked
Sadeeq said in his petition that a similar petition had already been filed and that the zonal administrator had been given notice. A temporary injunction is a court order that says a party to a lawsuit can’t do something until there is a trial or other court action.
“It is settled law that when a case is in court and a public official gets a notice on a stay application, he has to pay attention to what the court is doing and keep things the same until a decision is made on an application for a temporary injunction,” the plea said.
The plea said that the respondent was “under enormous political pressure” because Rashid was a political opponent of the current regime.
“The government authorities, for political reasons, are putting pressure on the respondent to take coercive measures against the appellants,” the plea said. It also said that the administrator had “started coercive measures for the eviction of the petitioners” even though a similar appeal had been filed earlier.
The petitioners said that even though the ETPB didn’t have to give them notice, they did, and that was enough. They asked for interim relief, which would mean that the ETPB couldn’t take away their property or do anything else to force them out until the main appeal was decided.
“If the interim relief isn’t given, the appeal, which has already been accepted for a regular hearing, would be useless, and the petitioners would lose in a way that can’t be fixed.”
The point of view
Rashid’s political office is called Lal Haveli.
In Rawalpindi’s Bohar Bazaar, there is an old building. Before the partition, the building belonged to a Hindu woman. After Rashid became a member of parliament in 1980, the building was turned into a political office.
Earlier, a senior ETPB official told Dawn that the most recent notice had been sent to the former federal minister to leave the land next to Lal Haveli, which he said was being used illegally.
Seven different people rented out seven units next to Lal Haveli, but Rashid used one of them as part of his Lal Haveli home, he said.
The official said that a 140-square-foot room was being used as the kitchen of Lal Haveli, and a 9-by-84-square-foot area was being used as rooms for the former federal minister’s security guards.
He also said that the ETPB had given this land to Wilayat Jan, who was Ayub Shah’s wife.
The official said that according to the law, the tenants didn’t have the right to sub-lease the property they were renting or change the way it was built. He also said that the ETPB did something about the breach.
Shafique, on the other hand, told Dawn that there was no problem with the five-marla Lal Haveli because it was registered to Rashid’s younger brother Sadeeq. “But there was a problem with seven units next to Lal Haveli and a temple, and the ETPB ruled in our favour in 2012,” he said.
Shafique said that the ETPB had cancelled the lease agreement, and that Sheikh Rashid had asked the board to rent him that property. The case had been decided in 2019.
He said that the property wasn’t part of Lal Haveli, but that it was right next to it. But, he said, the property had been in the hands of the former minister of the interior since 1993. “We were ready to pay one year’s dues, but the ETPB was using delay tactics and reopened the case after 10 years,” he said.
He said that the case was still being heard in the district and sessions court and that the notice to leave the land was unfair and against court orders.