Supreme Court annuls ETPB-DHA land sale agreement
03 October, 2013
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court Wednesday declared the sale agreement between the Defence Housing Authority (DHA) and the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) for Auqaf land null and void.
The court declared that numerous illegalities/irregularities and violations of financial instructions have been committed in the transactions entered into by the ETPB with DHA Lahore and Islamabad regarding the development of gurdwara lands.
A three-member bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, announced a 39-page judgement in the suo motu case regarding illegal selling out of the Auqaf properties by the Evacuee Trust Property Board chairman. The bench directed the Ministry of Minorities Affairs to arrange forensic audit of the ETPB for the last five years, and on the receipt of the report, actions, both civil and criminal, should be taken against the culprits.
The bench also said that in respect of both the transactions – DHA, Lahore land acquiring of Mauza Lidhar, Mauza Mota Singh Wala and Mauza Dera Chahal, etc, as well as DHA, Islamabad – call for civil and criminal proceedings against former chairman Asif Akhtar Hashmi and all others who were directly or indirectly responsible. "The inquiry already initiated by the FIA shall be expedited to be concluded as early as possible and compliance report shall be sent to the registrar for our perusal in Chambers for appropriate orders if need be," the court order read.
The court observed that the ETPB officials made an illegal agreement by "closing their eyes" and that in accordance with the constitution and law the Trust land could neither be sold nor exchanged with other land. The court also observed that the ETPB's transaction for making investment of Rs 986.00 million was contrary to the Board's interests and against the government instructions. It also directed the DHA to accept the ETP Board's decision taken in its 263rd meeting and hand over the developed residential and commercial plots to the ETPB.
"Acceptance of this offer must be communicated to ETPB within 30 days after receipt hereof, failing which DHA shall be bound to refund the land owned by ETPB situated in Mauza Lidhar, Mauza Mota Singh Wala and Mauza Dera Chahal," the order further stated.
The court also directed Senior Member Board of Revenue, government of Punjab, to make arrangements for the demarcation of the properties owned by the ETPB and ensure the restoration of the excess land; and on non- acceptance of option, total land so occupied/acquired should delivered back to the ETPB by the DHA by reversing the mutation entries and also cancelling the sale deeds, executed between the parities referred to in the judgement as it has also come on record that the DHA has acquired more land than agreed upon. The court also directed the government to take necessary measures for the appointment of ETPB chairman.