Court asks for explanation of land distribution mechanism

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The Sindh chief secretary, senior member of the Board of Revenue (BoR) and other respondents were served notices on Tuesday by the Sindh High Court in connection with a petition that sought the institution of an appropriate policy to distribute residential and agricultural land among poor peasants and other deserving people – one that is free of any political interference and nepotism.
The notices were served by a division bench of the SHC, comprising Justice Muhammad Athar Saeed and Justice Aqeel Ahmed Abbasi, which was hearing a constitutional petition filed by United Human Rights Secretary Rana Faiz-ul-Hassan.
The petitioner submitted that the Sindh chief minister (CM) has initiated several schemes to provide land to peasants across the province, even announcing plans to distribute 53,000 acres of land in the katcha area to poor peasants. In this regard, the CM had issued directives on February 3 to the Sindh Revenue Department to computerise land records of all districts in the province.
Quoting a news item published in newspapers, the plaintiff maintained that in a high-level meeting held earlier, the CM was informed by a member of the Gothabad Scheme that out of 700 goths in the city, 472 had already been regularized in Gadap Town, Keamari Town and Bin Qasim Town. Survey procedures for the rest were underway.
Expressing his concerns over the possibility of corruption on such schemes, the petitioner submitted that due to the lack of a transparent policy, higher officials may again adopt a biased approach while distributing lands, depriving poor peasants from the right to own lands.
The petitioner further stated that various land distribution schemes had been launched in the past, but had failed due to the lack of a proper and transparent policy. He argued that several ministers, politicians and officials were reportedly accused of nepotism during such schemes, but neither were any serious initiatives ever taken to probe these charges nor were any arrests made.
Citing the Sindh CM, chief secretary, Ministry for Board of Revenue, Lyari Development Authority, Gothabad Scheme and others as respondents, the petitioner pleaded with the court to issue an order for the introduction of a proper and transparent policy to ensure just distribution of lands.
The SHC bench, while serving notices for August 11, sought an explanation over the mechanism of leasing lands through land distribution schemes across the province.