Railways asks SC to let Royal Palm contract continue


ISLAMABAD – Counsel for Pakistan Railways (PR) Mian Gul Hassan Aurangzeb asked the Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday to let its contract continue with the Royal Palm Gulf Club despite the fact that there could be lapses in the bidding process.
Aurangzeb said that PR was a federal government subject and therefore fell under the domain of the Council of Common Interests. He said the whole land was utilised to augment PR revenues and the accord with the companies was for revenue-sharing, not leasing. The PR Audit director general told the court that there were numerous defaults in the contract.
He said the phase I of the Royal Palm Gulf Club had been completed and PR had received Rs 400 million from it, however, the companies had defaulted in phase II as it had not been completed yet. Mian Allah Nawaz, counsel for the petitioner Ishaq Khakwani, stated that initially 103 of acres land were allotted to the Husnain Construction Company in a 33-year lease, but after the tender, the PR board increased the area from 103 acres to 141 acres and the lease tenure from 33 years to 49 years.
The petitioner claimed that the transaction was made under the Pervez Musharraf government and was not made in a transparent manner. “If Railways officials had wanted to increase the lease and land they should have done that through new advertisements, but everything was done secretly, behind the curtain. The contract was a treacherous combination of companies and PR officials,” he said.
A joint petition was filed by Ishaq Khan Khakwani, former MNA and Dr Mubashir Hassan, challenging the lease agreement, which involved 1,128 kanals of prime PR land situated in the heart of Lahore, executed between the government and a Malaysian consortium associated by two Pakistani companies based in Lahore, namely Husnain Construction Company (Pvt) Ltd and Unicon Consulting Service (Pvt) Ltd, on July 26, 2001. The petitioner has requested the court declare the 49-year lease to have been made by swindling and abusing official authority, and to appoint neutral and competent evaluators to assess the damages inflicted upon PR.
The court was also asked to declare awarding of the contracts to the three companies in utter violation of Articles 2-A, 3, 4 and 25 of the constitution.