The Sindh High Court has asked the provincial government not to charge the SHC's employees present market rates for the allotment of 100 acres land in Hyderabad for establishing a cooperative housing society.
The Hyderabad circuit bench noted on Thursday that the allotment of the land in Ganjo Takkar deh, in Latifabad taluka, in favour of SHC Employees Cooperative Housing Society was supposed to be made in 2017.
During the hearing, additional advocate general (AAG) Allah Bachayo Soomro submitted an informal copy of the provincial government's scrutiny committee's recommendations in light of its April 8 meeting. The meeting suggested 50 per cent of the current market price at Rs3.5 million per acre of land in C category for the housing society.
The petitioners' counsel, Advocate Tehseen Ahmed Qureshi, challenged the recommendation on a number of grounds.
The counsel said the petitioners were supposed to be heard by the scrutiny committee in compliance with the SHC order before fixing the rate.
The lawyer said the land was supposed to be allotted in 2017, but the government's delay had dragged the matter for four more years.
He demanded that comparable rates as of 2017 should be applied for the allotment in question.
The bench observed that Rs3.5 million prevailing market price was a suggestion by the scrutiny committee and had not attained finality.
The AAG assured the court that the petitioners would be heard by the committee before deciding the rates.
The court directed the provincial government to sympathetically consider the case of the petitioners and also to accept that the delay was caused by official respondents and not the petitioners.
"… the petitioners should not be forced to pay any excessive price and only comparable prices should be charged from the petitioners," the court order read. "And if the law permits any concessional treatment or any waiver in this regard, those options should also be considered."
The court directed the AAG to facilitate a meeting between the petitioners and the provincial government and to inform the court about the outcome of the meeting.
Earlier, the SHC ordered the renewed demarcation of 220 acres of land allocated by the Sindh government for a graveyard in Hyderabad.
The order was issued on Wednesday, after the petitioner, Advocate Shakeel Ahmed Zai, complained to the court that neither parts of the graveyard where a mosque and a water well existed had been included in the cemetery under the existing demarcation, nor illegal gravel and sand mining had been stopped there.
He also complained that the court order for removing encroachments from the graveyard land had not been followed.
Hyderabad deputy commissioner Fuad Ghaffar Soomro has criticised the HMC's anti-encroachment staff for its action on the matter.
Read more: SHC summons Sindh chief secretary
The demarcation of the land, the physical possession of which was handed over to the HMC in 1999, but without demarcation, was carried out on March 9 in compliance with a March 2 order of the SHC. The graveyard could not be developed for last 22 years because the revenue department and the settlement survey director's office failed to demarcate the land. The Sindh government allocated Rs160 million for the graveyard's development four years ago, but the amount lapsed because the land was not demarcated.
A non-governmental organisation, headed by some senior citizens of Hyderabad, got the approval for the land in question from former chief minister late Syed Abdullah Shah in 1995. Initially, Shah had approved 1,000 acres along Hyderabad-Tando Muhammad Khan road on Ganjo Takkar mountain range's plateau for the graveyard. However, the Land Utilization Department handed over the physical possession of only 220 acres of land to the HMC.
The office of the Latifabad assistant commissioner and mukhtiarkar are said to be primarily responsible for this inordinate delay.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 26th, 2021.
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