SC summons CDA ex-boss for allowing plaza on public pool

Amenity plot for swimming pool was allotted for a commercial building


Our Correspondent October 25, 2018
Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court of Pakistan has issued summon to CDA’s ex-chairman Kamran Lashari, former CDA DG Ghulam Sarwar Sindhu and current CDA member estate Khushal Khan in the case of construction of an illegal plaza on a plot meant for swimming pool.

“The menace of corruption has infested the very souls of Pakistani people,” Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Saqib Nisar said hearing the case on Wednesday.

“The country needs to see the blessings of integrity,” the chief justice said heading a three-judge bench which was hearing the case of the construction of an illegal three-storeyed plaza on an amenity plot meant for public swimming pool.

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The court also formed a committee comprising of an additional attorney general, an advocate and CDA chairman to submit to the court recommendations regarding the controversial plaza.

Justice Nisar, in his remarks, said that the plot was leased for construction of a swimming pool but the land was used for construction of plaza with shops. After the plaza was built, the shop occupants were thrown out after taking goodwill payments from them.

“The court has the right to administer justice,” the CJP said while lashing out at the owner of a shop, Radio City.

The owners of the shop, Justice Nisar said, tried to present a false picture to the public posing as if the chief justice was somehow associated to them. “The Radio City owners will be held responsible if they continue to portray a false image,” chief justice warned.

He advised the owner of the plaza to return the goodwill amounts given by the tenants of the shops. He said that the CDA had allotted the plot for amenities.

Counsel for the owner of the plaza informed the court that the plot was leased on the condition that a swimming pool would be constructed. The land is a four-kanal plot in Sector F/6, he told the court.

He told the court that a swimming pool has been constructed and activated in the basement of the plaza. The plot was allotted at a price of Rs110,000 in the year 1974.

In his remarks, the CJP said that the plaza owners have earned billions of rupees through the illegal land use. All shops built on the plot must be demolished and the use of land should be restricted only to swimming pool and gym, Justice NIsar.

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The additional attorney general (AAG) said that CDA has not yet approved construction of the second floor of the plaza. He said that it was not possible for the Islamabad administration to correct itself. The AAG lamented that CDA did not take any action even though reports of illegal use of several plots were being forwarded. An illegal structure cannot be made regular, the AAG said to which the CJP said that owners of such plots would mend their ways if two or three plazas of such sort were demolished.

The current case falls under the domain of NAB, he said.

The counsel for the plaza owner while responding to a question told the court that the Centaurus Mall and the tower on Constitution Avenue Road were allotted by former CDA chairman Kamran Lashari.

On this, the chief justice said that all cases of irregularities and illegalities were more or less connected to Kamran Lashari. Today, member estate of CDA Khushal Khan has been given all the powers, Justice Nisar remarked, questioning how the CDA had issued a letter when the plaza was not regularised.

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The CJP said that he would personally visit the plaza as he believed that the poor tenants of the shops have been thrown out. The owners devoured the goodwill payments of the tenants. The counsel for the plaza owner requested the court to advise CDA to hold a fresh review of the plaza's file. “We have submitted a fee of Rs7.5 million for construction of the second floor,” he said. If CDA does not give the approval, the second floor of the plaza should be demolished.

AAG informed the court that three floors of the Safa Mall were also illegal. Due to a NAB inquiry, owner of the Safa Mall is in the jail right now. The counsel for the victims Chaudhry Mushtaq suggested the court to order auction of the second floor and deposit its proceeds in the dam fund. The CJP came down hard at the counsel and told him that it was strange to listen to such recommendation when the counsel had not deposited even a single paisa in the fund. Laughter burst out at the court during the conversation. The court forming a committee adjourned the hearing until next Tuesday. 

Published in The Express Tribune, October 25th, 2018.

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