Govt mulling plans to regularise building

IHC says it wants to hear from BNP group first before deciding case

Rizwan Shehzad January 26, 2018

ISLAMABAD: A committee set up by the prime minister is mulling plans to regularise the multi-storey under-construction building on One Constitution Avenue as part of the options to compensate those who had bought into the project.

This was divulged by Qamar Afzal, the counsel for several former officials of the Capital Development Authority (CDA) who had been booked for corruption in wake of the cancelled land lease of the One Constitution Avenue plot.

Afzal was addressing a division bench of the Islamabad High Court led by Justice Aamer Farooq.

He detailed that under the proposed plan, the CDA may regularise the hotel and the residential apartments which the court had previously declared irregular and illegal.

However, the counsel requested the bench not to decide the case until the committee, headed by the attorney general of Pakistan finalizes the report and provides a full list of options for compensation.

Afzal further elaborated that the committee has sought input from CDA over the plan.

The bench, however, remarked that they first want to hear from BNP on Monday.

Earlier, the court had directed the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to proceed as per law while probing alleged corruption in the land lease in the One Constitution Avenue case.

The court had allowed FIA to continue its investigations into the case where the agency had booked several officials of the CDA, including the former CDA chairman Kamran Lashari, former member administration Shaukat Ali, former member finance Kamran Ali Qureshi, and former member estate Asad Munir, and the BNP consortium.

In the subsequent FIR, the FIA said that officials had allegedly obtained wrongful gains to the tune of approximately Rs25 billion by causing a huge financial loss to the government by way of committing fraud, forgery, criminal breach of trust impersonation and misuse of official position etc.

Previously the court had conditionally allowed the FIA to probe alleged corruption in case, however, the investigation agency was barred from arresting any of the petitioners in the case till an intra-court appeal (ICA) filed by the BNP group is concluded.

The bench had modified its previous order – issued in response to a petition filed by the BNP group on February 23, 2016, seeking a stay on investigations – which restrained the investigation agency from proceeding against those responsible for allegedly giving undue relaxation to the lessee.

Earlier, the court had barred the FIA and NAB from arresting the former chairman CDA and others in connection with their alleged involvement in extending “undue favours” to owners of the OCA.

The three-page list of buyers includes several names that ring bells either on their own or due to famous relatives, including Imran Khan, Nasirul Mulk, Salman Bashir, Ahmed Mukhtar, Feryal Ali Gauhar, Jahangir Khan, Haris Khan Toru, Rashid Khan, Shazia Hafeez Shaikh, Muhammad Hashim Khan, Dr Asad Zia, Shiekh Amir Waheed, Shahzad Waseem, Muhammad Asif Sandila, Mehboobul Haque, Naseem Zehra Ikhlaq, Khawaja Muhammad Asad and Kashmala Tariq.

On July 29, 2016, the CDA cancelled the 99-year lease for the 13.45-acre plot, located adjacent to the Convention Centre, which was handed over to BNP group through an auction on March 9, 2005.

A single-member bench comprising Justice Athar Minallah had dismissed BNP’s appeal against the lease termination on March 3, 2017.

Justice Minallah had declared the construction of luxury apartments on land meant for the Grand Hyatt Hotel illegal and constituted a committee headed by secretary Capital Administration and Development Division (CADD) for compensation to the affected buyers of residential apartments.

Later, PM Abbasi notified another committee which considered regularising of the project as one of the options for compensation and sought input from the CDA.

The BNP group, though, had filed an ICA against a single bench’s decision of cancelling the land lease of the OCA’s under-construction building – meant for the Grand Hyatt Hotel. The court would resume hearing on Monday.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 26th, 2018.


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