IHC suspends allotment of plots to judges

Justice Minallah says those involved in corruption, misconduct had been allotted plots


Saqib Bashir August 21, 2021
Islamabad High Court. PHOTO: File

ISLAMABAD:

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Friday suspended the allotment of plots to judges of the high court and district courts.

The Federal Government Employees Housing Foundation (FGEHF) recently allotted plots through balloting to the judges of the high court and district courts, judges of the Supreme Court and bureaucrats.

However, IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah suspended the allotment of plots made to judges of the high court and district courts.

The IHC also issued a notice to the Attorney General for Pakistan to appear at the next hearing to assist the court in adjudicating the matter per the law.

“All judges of the district judiciary who are likely to hear cases of the affected landowners have been allotted plots at a price lower than the market rate and this is a conflict of interest,” said IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah in a written order regarding the suspension of allotment of plots in sectors F-14 and F-15 of the federal capital.

The court also barred the FGEHF from evicting the locals from their ancestral land.

The court said that surprisingly, judges involved in corruption, convicted in crimes, fired for misconduct have also been allotted the plots.

“Where do these (landowners) go for justice whose lands have been taken?” the order said adding that the judge convicted in the Tayyaba torture case and a judge sacked in a fake degree case had also been given plots.

The order further said that judges who are under observation due to incompetence were also given plots.

The court directed the housing secretary to take instructions from the federal government, the prime minister and the federal cabinet what is the criteria and policy for sharing the state land among certain beneficiaries.

The court said that the case should be placed before a larger bench on September 13 for hearing and the attorney general appeared to assist the court in this regard.

According to the written order of the court, the petitioner has taken the position that he was the owner of the land in Thala Syedan and Jhangi Syedan villages. When his application was disposed of on February 21, 2014, his and other landowners names had been included in the list of the people who were supposed to be given plots.

The authority had agreed with the owners for the allotment of plots but plots were never allotted. This is a clear violation of the fundamental rights enshrined in the constitution, this court also pointed out in its recent judgment.

The court said that the petitioner has taken the plea that cases regarding the authority were being heard or pending in the high court and district court and the authority has created financial interest with every officer of the district judiciary.

“This court cannot even imagine that it is the policy of the federal government that plots were allotted to judges who were fired for corruption, crime and misconduct. Even those who are ineligible or undergoing inquiries may not be eligible to take the plots,” the court said.

Meanwhile, IHC has sought a report from the Capital Development Authority (CDA) on the status of 10 slums in the federal capital.

The court, while hearing a petition of a slum-dweller, also issued notices to the Climate Change secretary and Environmental Protection Agency director-general seeking replies by August 25.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 21st, 2021.

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