ISLAMABAD: As many as seven bureaucrats, including the prime minister’s principal secretary, have been issued notices to appear before the court in a case related to the out-of-turn allotment of plots by the apex civic agency of the federal capital.
The notices were issued on Friday by a single-member bench of the Islamabad High Court (IHC), comprising Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani while hearing a petition filed by the former cabinet secretary Abu Ahmed Akif, through his counsel Munawwar Iqbal, on the out-of-turn allotment of plots to bureaucrats by the Capital Development Authority (CDA).
While the court had previously issued notices to the PM’s Principal Secretary Azam Khan and other bureaucrats, none of the respondents or their representatives appeared for Friday’s hearing.
At this, the petitioner’s lawyer said that senior bureaucrats were allotted plots errantly. He further argued that those who were listed lower down in the seniority list were preferred for allotments. Iqbal maintained that generally, plots are awarded under the Federal Government Employees Housing Foundation (FGEHF) rules and given the experience garnered by the worker. The lawyer said that Akif was a basic pay scale (BPS) grade 22 officer when he retired. Despite that, he was not given a plot in a developed sector - as he was entitled to.
However, the defendant’s lawyer argued that the petitioner must first satisfy the court whether the case was of public interest. He contended that the petitioner is complaining that his juniors were given an edge in the allotment of plots while maintaining that he had approached the court in the public interest.
At this, the court directed the respondents to submit their answers by the next hearing.
Moreover, Justice Kayani asked CDA’s lawyer if the authority had created the plots in question. To this, the civic authority’s counsel replied in the negative. The court directed the authority’s lawyer to submit a written answer on behalf of CDA.
Further, the responses of Planning Secretary Zafar Hasan and former secretary Shafqat Jalil were also submitted to the court.
Meanwhile, upon no response, the court sought answers from seven other bureaucrats before the next hearing.
These bureaucrats include the secretaries of the Aviation Division, Ministry of States and Frontier Regions (SAFRON), Petroleum Ministry, along with Customs Member Javed Ghani, Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) Member Legal Fazal Yazdani, Establishment Division official Ijaz Shah Wasti and officials of FGEHF, CDA, Ministry of Housing and Works
Justice Kayani also summoned records from CDA regarding allotment of plots, which was allegedly done out-of-turn.
The court sought answers from the respondents and adjourned the case until July 21.
In his petition, the former cabinet secretary alleged that plots have been allotted to benefit the select bureaucrats. He said that FGEHF without evolving any mechanism for allotment in developed sectors proceeded to allot the plots to the above mentioned senior bureaucrats.
He stated in the petition, “The hurriedness on the part of the CDA and FGEHF in the process of creation and allotment of plots makes it clear that this exercise was a pre-planned act to oblige some blue-eyed individuals.”
He continued, “It is a matter of record that no advertisement has been made in newspapers or any other manner to invite objection of the general public before deciding an amendment to the layout plan of Sector D-12.”
Published in The Express Tribune, June 27th, 2020.