One Constitution Avenue case: Apartment holders want lease renewed

Say they should not be punished for something that was not their fault

Rizwan Shehzad November 24, 2016

ISLAMABAD: Some purchasers have argued before the Islamabad High Court that the lease cancellation of the One Constitution Avenue complex was “illegal” as it was in violation of several judgments of the Supreme Court ruling that a lease cannot be cancelled years after construction on the land.

Asma Jahangir and another counsel concluded arguments on behalf of some purchasers before Justice Athar Minallah of IHC on Wednesday.

Jahangir said that according to SC judgments, the purchasers’ rights should be protected because they are “innocent bona fide third parties” and could not be allowed to be treatment in such a manner if the regulator or contractor were at fault.

The counsel argued that no law and order exists which restricts petitioners’ entry into their own  apartments.

“How am I being illegally stopped from entering my own property,” she argued, adding that there was dire need to find a mechanism because how long can one [petitioner] stay at a relative’s place or postpone things.

“Life is totally disturbed. Planning is totally disturbed. I can’t rent out my property and post-retirement planning is at a halt,” she said, adding that many of the petitioners currently outside the country were thinking of coming back and settling here, but awaiting a decision.

“But how long will it take,” she said. “The petitioners need access.”

Justice Minallah asked if BNP’s application is not accepted, who would protect the rights of the purchasers.

Asma said that if the Capital Development Authority (CDA) wants to take ownership, then they will have to negotiate while reiterating that the petitioners won’t accept payment based on criterion from 1935.

She said that the CDA will have to protect petitioners’ rights.

To this, Justice Minallah remarked that “negotiation will take ages” and it would be unfair for bonafide purchasers to enter negotiations as it would be a miscarriage of justice for them.

In addition, the court directed the parties to restrict their arguments to the grounds of cancellation of the lease as, prima facie, CDA has only cancelled the lease for two purposes – being a defaulter or for the illegal use of the premises.

“The court will not go beyond that. It doesn’t have suo motu powers,” he said.

Some other purchasers would present arguments on November 28.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 25th, 2016.


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