The Public Accounts Committee on Tuesday directed the Capital Development Authority (CDA) to revamp its legal wing. Parliament’s accountability arm showed displeasure after it was told about the delay in resolution of disputes due to incompetence and bureaucratic hurdles in the civic agency.
While expressing annoyance over the poor performance of lawyers appearing on CDA’s behalf in the capital’s courts, the committee chaired by Nadeem Afzal Chan, expressed concern over the huge numbers of pending cases. CDA has 5,000 cases pending in courts and 200 stay orders have been granted in other parties’ favour.
The committee was informed that the panel of 19 lawyers working for CDA include Law Director General Habibur Rehman, Barrister Masroor Shah, CDA chief legal adviser, legal adviser and additional legal advisers. “Despite the platoon of lawyers, 5,000 cases of the civic agency are pending in the court, which is an indication of the poor performance of lawyers,” observed Chan.
When the committee was informed that each lawyer charged Rs20,000 per case and collectively claimed Rs16.57 million from CDA in 2011-2012, PAC members asked CDA Chairman Farkhand Iqbal to cut down on the number of lawyers. Iqbal was also directed to computerise all the records pertaining to cases within 15 days.
During the meeting, Auditor General of Pakistan (AGP) Akhtar Buland Rana criticised the civic body for not dispensing justice which he said was evident from the huge number of cases pending in various courts. He maintained that many litigants who go into litigation against CDA have to fight legal battles for years despite the fact that verdicts were announced in their favour and they remain deprived of their rights.
Meanwhile, the committee directed the AGP to investigate into the CDA’s legal audit department as its lawyers claimed huge amount every year as compensation for their services. Most cases pertain to land acquisition and compensation.
The civic agency is facing over 60 contempt cases in the Islamabad High Court, including its chairman and other top officials. Contempt of court petitions were also filed by CDA officials who were aggrieved by the orders of their seniors. In service matters, the officials even after getting court orders in their favour are struggling to have them implemented.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 8th, 2012.
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