The senior officials of Capital Development Authority (CDA) can breathe a sigh of relief but only for the time being.
Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Thursday set aside the order of the single bench in which it had attached the salaries of senior officers of the capital’s top civic agency and seized CDA’s bank accounts in a land compensation case.
The divisional bench, comprising Justice Riaz Ahmed Khan and Justice Azim Khan Afridi, while hearing an intra-court appeal filed by CDA, set aside the order issued by the single bench and restored the staff’s salaries till the next date of hearing.
Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui on July 27 had attached the salaries of chairman CDA, members, directors general, deputy directors general and directors, while hearing a land compensation case of villagers from sectors H-16 and I-17. The civic agency challenged the order contending that it was facing the worst financial crunch.
The divisional bench in its interim order said the affected villagers were still in possession of their properties and CDA member finance had referred to the shortage of funds as a major problem. “In these circumstances attachment of CDA’s the accounts is hereby de-attached till the next date of hearing,” the court said. The case was adjourned till the next date is fixed by the office.
CDA’s legal adviser Muhammad Ramzan Chaudhry argued that the July 27 order was illegal as officers were deprived of their fundamental rights when their salaries were withheld.
He maintained that the single bench did not consider the options proposed by CDA to the affected families. These included the allotment of plots in the same sector, land-sharing formula, de-acquisition of the land in question and possibilities of paying compensation in installments and waiting till the development of sectors through joint ventures. However, the affected families had rejected these options and moved the court.
Chaudhry claimed the officers’ salaries were withheld without hearing their point of view. He said we told the court that CDA was facing financial problems but still everyone’s salaries from the chairman down to the peon were stopped. He requested the court to set aside the order of the single bench.
Contempt of court
Meanwhile, the same bench adjourned an intra-court appeal of former chairman of Prime Minister’s Task Force on Islamabad Faisal Sakhi Butt after his counsel failed to appear before the court. Butt had filed an appeal on July 26, challenging contempt proceedings against him by Justice Siddiqui.
The court, on July 18, had issued a show-cause notice to Butt for violating court orders and asked him to explain under which law he was interfering in CDA’s affairs. The IHC, on May 14, while hearing a land allotment case had barred Butt from entering CDA’s premises and also directed officials of the civic agency not to visit him in their official capacity. The notification through which he was made the chairman of the prime minister’s task force was also suspended.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 3rd, 2012.