The managing director of the Tourism Development Corporation (TDCP) told the Lahore High Court on Tuesday that he had lodged criminal cases against an architect because he was told to by Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif.
Chief Justice Ijaz Ahmed Chaudhry was conducting proceedings on a petition filed by architect Azam Saaed, who says the TDCP lodged false cases against him and owes him Rs6 million under a contract to build a park in front of Chief Minister’s House in Murree.
The court had summoned TDCP Managing Director Saad Sikandar on Tuesday to ask why six cases had been registered against the contractor.
Sikandar said that he had not finished the work he had been contracted to do, and he had been paid in full.
The chief justice was unsatisfied, noting that the cases appeared to have the flimsiest of pretexts; in one, the architect was accused of stealing his own belongings. He demanded that Sikandar tell him the truth about why the cases were registered.
The managing director responded that he had made complaints against the architect for two cases on the directions of a higher authority, and he knew nothing about the other cases.
“What do you mean by higher authority? Do you mean the chief minister?” asked Justice Chaudhry.
Khan nodded and said: “Yes.”
The chief justice then said that the executive must not be allowed to violate the law and the constitution, while also chastising the managing director. He turned to Sikandar: “Would you act on all the chief minister’s orders, legal or illegal, with eyes closed?”
He responded that bureaucrats believed that orders from higher authorities must be followed.
Justice Chaudhry warned Sikandar that he could be prosecuted for implicating the petitioner in fake cases. He called Sikandar a “small officer” who had been given a “big post”, and observed that bad behaviour was all that could be expected of such officials.
He said it was not the job of bureaucrats to settle the chief minister’s grudges.
He said that the managing director should be replaced. He ordered a departmental inquiry and issued notice to the inspector general of Punjab Police and the advocate general for Wednesday (today).
The chief justice said that he had been shocked to learn that the police had registered a case against the petitioner on the basis of a complaint received through the post.
“Every day the courts direct the police to register cases but they are ignored. In this matter, the police instantly registered a case on the basis of a complaint by post,” he said.
Saeed, the petitioner, said that he and his partner Engr Kamran Gul had been contracted to develop PIA Park at Kashmir Point in Murree in July 2009.
After he started the job, officials from the Tourism Development Corporation claiming to be associated with Chief Minister’s House came to him and demanded a cut of the profit, as well as jobs for their men as sub-contractors, he said.
He refused and they pressured the TDCP to stop his payment, Saeed said. A cheque already issued by the department bounced, he said. The corporation unlawfully cancelled the contract on May 3, 2010, he said, without paying him the Rs6 million or returning Rs1.8 million he had deposited with the department as security.
TDCP officials also registered false cases against him and his partner, he said, and harassed his mother in Lahore.
On July 6, 2011, a Rawalpindi court granted him and Gul bail, but they were re-arrested later the same day under a new FIR registered by the TDCP at Taxila police station.
He said he had been working as an architect on government and private projects for 15 years and had never committed any irregularities in his work.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 10th, 2011.