SHC: DHA withholds land allocation and reclamation data. The Sindh High Court asked the Defence Housing Authority on Wednesday to give records and paperwork for all property allotted, including land reclaimed from the sea, after the official assignee complained that the DHA was refusing to deliver the required data.
A single-judge SHC bench chaired by Justice Zulfiqar Ahmad Khan also issued notices to the DHA, Cantonment Board Clifton, Cantonment Board Faisal, Cantonment Board Malir, and Karachi Cantonment Board and others for Dec 15 on an application seeking contempt proceedings against them for failing to comply with the court’s earlier order prohibiting them from using the land sanctioned as public spaces for commercial or gainful purposes or from creating a third-party
Additionally, it directed the DHA to submit information about land reserved for other projects and the Civil Aviation Authority and Port Qasim Authority to share information about commercial properties and reclaimed land, respectively.
Additionally, the bench directed the Sindh government to designate focal individuals to provide pertinent information to the official assignee on title and occupancy of the reclaimed property.
When the bench heard a suit brought by six plaintiffs under the Whistleblower Protection and Vigilance Commission Ordinance, Official Assignee Dr Chaudary Wasim Iqbal filed an interim report in accordance with an earlier order requiring an inspection of the reclaimed land and the provision of details of 22 private entities’ commercial locations.
The court grants the authority two weeks to provide the necessary paperwork.
According to the article, the official assignee had issued notifications to the DHA and other defendants for them to furnish relevant records and papers as well as to establish focal persons to ensure compliance within the specified time period.
The report stated, however, that based on the position adopted by the DHA’s law officer, it appeared as though the DHA was purposefully withholding the papers while the plaintiffs submitted a copy of the 1973 master plan pertaining to the initial assignment of property to DHA.
The official assignee explained to the DHA legal officer that without documentation of the initial allotment, it was impossible to determine the dimensions of reclaimed land.
He indicated that architect Marvi Mazhar came to donate her services and draw the proportions of the reclaimed area, and she was requested to give aerial mapping of the reclaimed property.
Apart from inspecting six properties in DHA, the report stated that other officials from the official assignee’s office inspected several sites on Nov 29 — Falcon Mall, PAF Museum, The Venue, The Signature, and Imperial Wedding Halls — that were under the control of the military estate office and Pakistan Air Force.
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The squadron leader of PAF Base Faisal responded to the official assignee’s letter, stating that no commercial activity was being conducted under the command management of the PAF base, and that all commercial activities on the site of the under-construction Falcon Mall had been halted in light of the Supreme Court order, as well as the removal of signboards depicting the mall.
Additionally, the report stated that the Karachi Urban Lab (KUL) stated that it lacked the resources necessary to carry out this task, while the National Institute of Oceanography Pakistan (NIOP) stated that it had never been contacted regarding conducting scientific research on the process of reclaimed land from the Karachi shore.
The official assignee sought that the bench direct the DHA to give documentation of the land initially granted to it and information of every other land that came into their occupation as a result of reclaimed land either by the DHA or by any other federal or provincial department.
He also requested that DHA share title deeds to reclaimed land under its occupation with other corporations in addition to the land sold to other enterprises.
The bench granted the official assignee’s petition and continued the proceedings until Dec 15.
On Oct 23, the bench directed the DHA and other official defendants to ensure that the land previously sanctioned as public spaces was not used for commercial or gainful purposes until the case’s next hearing and directed an official assignee to inspect the reclaimed land being used by the DHA and submit a report with photographs and maps of the land with the assistance of KUL or NIOP.
Additionally, it barred DHA from reclaiming additional territory, transferring it to anyone, or developing third-party interest in the land.
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