Administration of the Lahore Cantonment Board has ifnormed the Lahore High Court that the land over which a multi-storey commercial complex has been built in Fortress Stadium was meant for specific military purposes, and that the LCB had not approved its construction plan.
The court is hearing a petition challenging the construction of the complex. Lahore Cantt Executive Officer Saima Shah, a named respondent, filed the reply. She said the LCB had not executed the transaction, and the land in question was not managed by the board. She said that as a municipal body, the LCB only deals with Class C land and market land. Shah said the land in question was in class A-1, meant for specific military purposes, and did not fall under the jurisdiction of the LCB. She said the project’s building plan had not been approved by LCB.
The reply filed by Colliers International said their services had been hired to sell and lease shops. Their counsel said they were appointed from May 1, 2009, until completion of the sales. The counsel said that they were required to complete sales and collect Rs1 billion within 24 months of the centre’s launch date.
The petitioner’s counsel Saad Rasool said the shopping complex had been constructed in violation of the law. He said the land belonged to the federal government, but the Fortress Stadium Management had leased out the land to DUPAK Developers Pakistan in 2007, for 33 years to construct a plaza. He said the construction was complete and the management was now handing over possession of shops.
The agreement with DUPAK Developers states that the Pakistan Army is the sole owner, but the land belongs to the federal government, he said. He said according to a letter issued by the Military Estate Officer, the land is specified as Class-AI land and is reserved for military purposes.
He said the FSM, an unregistered private entity, with no legal standing or part in the government did not have the authority to lease out the land. “He said approval from the Environment Protection Agency was also not obtained.”
Justice Ayesha A Malik had issued notices to the respondents. Justice Malik expressed dissatisfaction over non submission of replies on Wednesday by the Ministry of Defence and the Fortress Stadium management. She said their right to defence would be closed if they did not file replies by the next hearing. The date will be fixed by the LHC registrar’s office.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 1st, 2014.