LAHORE: The Supreme Court (SC) dismissed on Thursday an appeal by Hamza Sugar Mills challenging a Lahore High Court (LHC) order directing it to vacate 800 kanals of state and pay a penalty for using the land for several years.
A three-member SC bench, headed by Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, heard the appeal at SC’s Lahore Registry. The mills’ administration had submitted that it had had possession of the land since 1963 after making it cultivable.
The mills’ administration said it was ready to pay the penalty but it was difficult for it to move the machinery from the site.
The advocate general and the colonies secretary told the court that the mills and the government had reached no agreement regarding possession of the land. They said the mills had never paid any amount for the use of land and had prolonged its possession through litigation.
The court dismissed the appeal and upheld the LHC judgement.
The LHC had recently ordered the revenue authorities to re-possess the ‘encroached’ land in Bahawalpur and recover a penalty from the mills for its unauthorised use of land.
Justice Ibadur Rehman Lodhi had issued the order while dismissing a petition by the mills requesting the court to declare the possession of the land legal. The petitioner had submitted that state land in Mohal Chak 1/P in Khanpur tehsil, Rahim Yar Khan, had been barren until the petitioner had taken possession and developed it.
The petitioner had also challenged a subordinate court’s assessment of the value of the land and imposition of 10 per cent surcharge to be recovered from the mills. The matter had then been taken to a court which had referred the matter to a senior member of the Board of Revenue with the consent of both parties. The senior member had furnished a report assessing the market value of the land, but the petitioner had objected to the assessment.
The LHC had then declared that an agreement could not be concluded and the plaintiff remained in illegal possession of the land. The court had also observed that the petitioner apparently wanted to continue its possession of the land and did not intend to pay the penalty or compensation.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 24th, 2015.