ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Wednesday decided to hear all review petitions regarding Grand Hyatt Hotel case as one.
A three-member bench remarked that if BNP was not willing to give guarantee of paying Rs17.5 billion to Capital Development Authority (CDA), the action of CDA was legitimate.
Pakistan’s top court ordered on January 9, BNP, the builder, to pay Rs17.5 billion to CDA in eight years in the Grand Hyatt case. The then bench had accepted the appeal of the BNP Group against the Islamabad High Court order of September 4, 2018, which upheld the lease cancellation of a plot meant for the Grand Hyatt Hotel by the CDA.
The authority had cancelled the lease in 2016 over violation of agreement. The plot was leased for building a hotel; instead the builder constructed and sold 240 apartments.
The three member bench led by Justice Azmat Saeed heard the case on Wednesday. Justice Saeed expressed that CDA’s condition was already poor and nothing had change even now.
At this, the CDA’s counsel told the court that serviced apartments in Grand Hyatt Hotel could not be sold by administration. As per law, serviced apartments are hotel rooms and suites which can only be rented out, not sold.
Justice Umar Ata Bandial asked that whether CDA had given that permission. The counsel replied that approved map was for hotel and serviced apartments only.
Justice Saeed asked about options available for action if apartments were sold. The counsel answered that CDA could cancel allotment of apartments to which Justice Saeed replied that cancellation was not a permanent solution and added, “Shall we start sit-in on D-Chowk because the lawyers are not guiding the court properly in the Grand Hyatt Hotel case. You have put chains in our feet.”
He expressed that lease period was only 33 years not 99 years. The lease is already 14 years old. The CDA leased the land to BNP in 2005 to build a luxury hotel by Jinnah Convention Centre. The lessee instead built 240 luxury apartments.
The applicant’s counsel expressed that his client was being pushed around for four years. Justice Ijaz Ul Ahsan said that BNP was responsible for it. “If the company cannot give any guarantee about Rs17.5 billion then the CDA’s action is fair.”
Later, the court ordered to merge all review petitions and adjourned the case indefinitely.
Among the list of the 240 flats owners, there are many big names including Prime Minister Imran Khan, former chief justice Nasirul Mulk, Ehsan Mani, Kashmala Tariq, former governor Muhammad Ashraf Wathra, former Pemra chairman Absar Alam, former naval chief Muhammad Asif Sandila, former foreign secretary Salman Bashir, Lt Gen (retd) Ahsan Azhar Hayat, actress Faryal Gauhar, and former defence minister Ahmed Mukhtar.
Around 27 purchasers, including Imran Khan, filed petition against decision of the IHC single bench which terminated the contract of land lease and sealed the building. SC had overturned the IHC decision, however, had ordered BNP Group to pay Rs17.5 billion to CDA.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 22nd, 2019.