CJ blasts DCO for ignoring corruption of patwaris


Lahore High Court (LHC) Chief Justice Ijaz Ahmed Chaudhry on Tuesday directed Lahore District Coordination Officer (DCO) Ahad Cheema to submit details of assets of all tehsildars, naib tehsildars and patwaris posted in Lahore.
The DCO appeared in court to defend his position in a case against Kahna Circle Patwari Mehboob Sarwar who was not issuing fard-e-malkiat (mutation deed) to a petitioner despite court orders. As the proceedings started on Tuesday, the LHC CJ asked the DCO, “Do you know what patwaris are doing under your nose?” He said that fards were being issued by patwaris after taking bribes up to Rs 1.5 million and the authorities concerned were sleeping.
Expressing serious concerns over malpractices of patwaris, the LHC CJ advised the Punjab chief minister to take action against corrupt patwaris or quit his office. The LHC CJ asked the DCO to convey the court’s concern to the chief minister. Cheema said that people should lodge complaints against corrupt patwaris. At this, the LHC CJ asked him, “Do you think any commoner could dare file a complaint against a patwari, fearing tempering of his property record?”
The LHC CJ said that the revenue department was the most corrupt department in the country but it appeared that the authorities had turned a blind eye to these issues. “Patwaris have been living in bungalows and never work without taking gratification,” the LHC CJ pointed out. The LHC CJ admonished the DCO for his lack of concern towards malpractice in the revenue department and also criticised the ongoing anti-encroachment drive.
The LHC CJ said that bribes were being taken from encroachers for not taking action against them. The petitioner’s counsel informed the court that fard had been issued and grievance of his client had been addressed. But the LHC CJ observed that the court would not abandon the matter simply on issuance of the fard. The LHC CJ adjourned the hearing until August 12 and directed the DCO to furnish assets details of patwaris and others.
Petitioner Khalid Saeed had submitted that on his petition a bench of the LHC had directed patwari of the Kahna Circle to issue him the fard-malkiat without any delay, but the patwari ignored the orders.
OFFICIAL ON REMAND: An accountability court on Tuesday handed over Zulqarnain Shah, former Lahore Development Authority (LDA) officer, to police on physical remand until July 27. Zulqarnain had been arrested from Lahore on July 11 on charges of illegal verification of property documents on which various citizens obtained fake loans of Rs 150 million from the National Bank of Pakistan (NBP). NAB authorities presented the accused in court seeking his 14 days physical remand for investigation.
The court, granting the physical remand, directed NAB authorities to complete the investigation by the next date of hearing. The court will resume hearing of the case on July 27.
WASA TUBEWELLS: Also on Tuesday, the LHC CJ disposed of a suo motu notice and petition against presence of arsenic in drinking water obtained from tube-wells in the city. The court disposed of the case after the Water and Sanitation Agency (WASA) managing director (MD), through a written report, informed the court that contract for installation of filtration plants in each union council of the city has been awarded to NESPAK, which has already started work on the project.
The CJ asked the authorities concerned to utilise funds allocated for drinking water and ensure provision of drinking water to citizens. Advocate Mateenul Haq Chaudhry, who filed the petition along with the suo motu notice, had pointed out that during electricity load shedding, Lahoris were not provided water. He said that WASA claimed to have installed power generators on tube-wells to ensure smooth supply even during load shedding but the situation was different.
On this, the WASA MD said that installation of generators would also be ensured at each tube-well. The Punjab government had already told the court that Rs 42 million had been transferred to WASA and the process had also started for installation of water filtration plants on tube-wells. He said that 150 water filtration plants had been imported from China to ensure supply of arsenic-free drinking water to citizens.
Each union council of Lahore will get one filtration plant, he added. Former LHC CJ Khawaja Sharif had taken suo motu notice last year on media reports that the Environmental Protection Department (EPD), through a report, revealed that out of 392, 253 tube-wells were supplying arsenic-contaminated water.