SC judge doubts LDA City’s completion

54,000-kanal project limited to just 13,000 kanals: NAB director


Our Correspondent March 26, 2019
Supreme Court of Pakistan. PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD: A Supreme Court judge, Justice Azmat Saeed has remarked that Lahore Development Authority (LDA) city would never be completed and that the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) must arrest and investigate those responsible for the project.

A hearing of the case pertaining to the change of the Lahore Development Authority Director General Amna Imran was held in the Supreme Court before the three-member bench presided over by Justice Azmat Saeed.

The court had ordered LDA Director General Amna Imran not be transferred until the completion of the LDA City project against which the Punjab government had filed a review petition.

At the beginning of the hearing, Punjab Advocate General Ahmed Owais informed the court that the Punjab government had filed a review petition on the orders of the conditional change of the LDA director general upon which Justice Azmat Saeed inquired as to whether the Punjab government wanted clarification of the decision or a review. He also inquired if all the builders of Lahore’s LDA city were present and asked that the court be apprised of the status of the NAB investigation into the matter.

During the hearing, NAB's director of investigations informed the court that an investigation was underway and that the project had started in 2003 when Ahed Cheema was the LDA DG. He informed the court that the contracts awarded for LDA City in 2003 had not been in accordance with the law upon which Justice Azmat Saeed remarked that NAB is being ordered to catch those responsible and lock them up as there was no other solution to the problem. Upon being questioned on the status of the project, the accountability watchdog’s director informed the court that the project was supposed to be constructed on 54,000 kanals but had now been restricted to only 13,000 kanals, and that 17 billion rupees had been received from a total of 9,000 people. Justice Azmat Saeed subsequently remarked that he thought LDA city would not be completed and that the court’s time not be wasted. The NAB director, however, replied that the project could still be completed.

On the review petition filed by the Punjab government, the court inquired of the advocate general as to what was incorrect in the SC’s order. The court remarked that the advocate general had raised a question over Article 184 (3) in the petition and that the court wanted talks to be held on the issue so that the matter could be resolved forever. The court said that it would gladly decide whether the Supreme Court had to decide constitutional cases or those who paid fees to top lawyers.

On the court’s expression of displeasure, the Punjab advocate general said that if the court granted permission, the review petition request would be taken back and a bench request given.

During the hearing of the case, the lawyer for the mayor of Lahore said that the court should hear the case regarding the powers of the mayors upon which Justice Azmat Saeed said that the article of the Constitution related to city governments needs to be explained. The court said that Article 140 needed to be implemented and the powers needed to be explained but the advocate general must file the petition following which the remaining case would be heard

The court then postponed the hearing indefinitely. The court had ordered LDA Director General Amna Imran not be transferred until the completion of the LDA City project against which the Punjab government had filed a review petition.

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