The Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered Defence Housing Authority (DHA) to submit Rs22.24 billion that Employees Old Age Benefit Institute (EOBI) had paid to it in a shadowy deal to purchase 321 kanals of land.
Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry directed DHA’s advocate Ahmer Bilal Sufi to deposit the money with the court’s registrar office by July 19 or furnish the details of the DHA’s assets. “The assets can be attached if the money was not deposited,” he added.
The three-judge bench, also comprising Justice Jawwad S Khawaja and Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed, was hearing a suo motu case regarding alleged misappropriation of Rs40 billion in the EOBI, which had made different faulty investments causing huge losses.
“It has been noted that in a highly non-transparent manner a deal was entered between the EOBI and the DHA. The PPRA rules etc. were not followed and on a higher rate the land of lower cost was purchased and Rs22.24 billion was paid,” the bench wrote in the order.
The bench observed that the DHA Islamabad had handed over allotment letters to the EOBI, but the title of the land could not be transferred through such letters. It said such transfers of titles were not in accordance with the Transfer of Property Act and Stamps Act.
Advocate Sufi tried to convince the bench that the land was worth purchasing, the deal would benefit the EOBI and its investment was secure. He said that the developmental work on the land had been 70% to 80% done and was due to complete within 3 months. He further added that Rs 9 billion and Rs 11 billion had also been respectively provided to the DHA and Habib Rafique Group and Bahria Town for the developmental work.
“The DHA does not have such a huge equity right now to deposit with the SC’s registrar and some time may be given to the authority for explaining its position,” Sufi argued.
Chief Justice Chaudhry said if there was no money with the DHA the lawyer should furnish the details of its assets that could be attached as long as the case was pending in the apex court.
Earlier Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Additional Director General Law Azam Khan informed the bench the FIA visited the site along with Islamabad district revenue officer on July 16, and observed that no development work had been done at the land purchased in 2011.
Azam Khan revealed that earlier through a tripartite agreement between DHA, Bahria Town (BT) and Habib Rafique in 2009 the authority had allowed the two other companies to develop the land and run its marketing campaign. For that the DHA was to pay 70% of the share to the BT.
Separately the bench also directed ex-owners of six properties purchased by EOBI in Lahore to deposit Rs7,087 million with the registrar office. These individual had voluntarily offered the FIA for the return of the money they received from the EOBI.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 18th, 2013.