ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the builder of the multi-storey structure on One Constitution Avenue to tell the court what was the set rent on which flats were leased out.
The question was raised as a three-member bench of the Supreme Court, led by Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar, heard a petition filed by the consortium building the structure against the Capital Development Authority’s (CDA) decision to cancel the lease of the building.
During Wednesday’s hearing, BNP Group’s counsel Ali Zafar told the court that 65,098 square yards plot was leased at a rate of Rs750 per square yard. The group paid Rs732 million as down payment while the remaining sum was to be paid over a period of 15 years in easy instalments.
By contrast, a prime estate plot in the capital was sold at a rate of Rs14,500 per square feet.
At this, CJP Nisar said that the court had not reviewed the CDA’s stance at every stage of the project because the CDA, as has emerged in other cases, often adopts an incorrect stance.
The court went on to ask whether inherited land can be sold through unregistered documents.
At this Zafar urged the court to ask the CDA to detail the number of times it altered the master plan to allow construction of certain projects.
Justice Ijazul Ahsan remarked that a five-star hotel in the federal capital too would fall in the category which falls afoul of the city’s master plan.
Zafar went on to argue that both, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) have already conducted investigations into the matter.
He further adopted the stance that the consortium did not sell apartments in the structure, rather it had merely leased them.
At this, the CJP asked what was the agreed rent?
He went on to state that handing out properties on a 99-year lease does not constitute giving them out on rent.
He further said that in many hotels, rooms are usually given out for six months to a year for which rent is charged.
But the contracts for the One Constitution Avenue flats mentions no such thing.
Owing to the shortage of time, the court directed Zafar to prepare his arguments and adjourned the case until the first week of December.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 15th, 2018.
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